The “pub test” is Australian slang. It is a metaphorical test that seeks to evaluate the thoughts and opinions of ordinary Australians, and apply them in judging potentially dubious activities by others.
Years ago we came home to find Picnic (our dog) licking his lips. The roast chicken that had been resting on the kitchen bench all ready for our dinner had disappeared. Picnic had a sheepish look.
We’d been gone for under ten minutes. And now the dilemma… What punishment, if any, matches this crime? One that would pass the pub test.
It was our fault, afterall. We should have put Picnic out. In our defence, we had never seen Picnic on the kitchen bench and didn’t know he could get up there.
Still, it was like we’d set Picnic up to disappoint us. He’s a dog after all. Just doing what dogs do.
I’m telling you this because as a leader, if you don’t set your people up for success with clear roles and boundaries, the right tools and support, you might end up with the work equivalent of a dog on the bench situation and no dinner for yourself too.
When role requirements change
My client, let’s call her Clara faced this situation last week. Her boss, the CEO, thinks she should get rid of Ray, her most senior staff member. Role requirements have changed since he was hired and he’s not measuring up anymore. His head is in the sand. No matter how many times they try and communicate this, he doesn’t seem to know it. At least, he clearly doesn’t want to know it.
Clara feels sick. She’s been avoiding dealing with it for months now. It seems keeping your head in the sand is common at her workplace! It’s partly because her team leadership is being called into question. What impact will it have on the team if she does let him go? And let’s not forget Ray.
Ray does what he does well. He’s technically competent. The new requirements are for him to take more of a leadership role with other departments. He’s never had to do this before.
It doesn’t pass the pub test to get rid of him. It doesn’t seem fair or just. He’s been a loyal and terrific staff member over the years, until this change. What would it say about Clara’s capacity as a team leader and her leadership overall if she goes through with it? And would she be able to sleep well at night?
So, together, we hatched a plan to pass the pub test:
- Rewrite his KPIs so there is clarity on the new role requirements.
- Discuss what these new requirements mean for him on his job and what success looks like.
- Identify any training needs – working out what he needs to learn to succeed now in this expanded role.
- Provide training – in this case there’s an industry mentor scheme for him to access that will likely be enough to help him develop the leadership skills he needs.
Is it a team or individual level problem?
Now this all sounded sensible enough. But after sleeping on it something wasn’t sitting right for Clara.
That’s when it dawned on her. In truth is, her whole department needs to lift its game in this area. It isn’t fair to target Ray.
Clara immediately felt lighter and energised. There’s a spring in her step and a new-found confidence.
She’s rewriting everyone’s KPIs, expanding everyone’s role and providing them with the tools and training they need to meet the new requirements.
She’s enlisting the marketing department to improve their written communications. She’s setting up simple targets like don’t automatically say no to requests, at least say you’ll consider them. And smile more.
The proof will be in the pudding. But if Clara’s new-found energy is infectious, then it looks like Ray and the whole department are secure in their jobs and on their way to even more success. This kind of team leadership is more like it.
Now it’s over to you. Is there anything you’re avoiding at your workplace? Does it seem too thorny or impossible to even think about? Is it weighing you down?
If so, the sooner you do something about it the better. If you want help with that, get started by scheduling a time with me here.