I understand you have 6 team members reporting to you, did you pick them out yourself?
I managed the selection process for hiring these individuals but others are involved. Typically, one of our physicians (essentially my medical counterpart) and I review the resumes and interview the top candidates. Depending on the position, we will either make a decision at that point or bring people back to meet with other staff and faculty.
Every team has their own individual characteristic. So what is your team’s?
Let’s see…this is a great team and I want to do them justice. They are a bright and dedicated group. As I already said, they are highly independent. They are good problem-solvers and have most issues resolved or at least well thought out before they bring it to me or my medical counterpart.
The other part that I really respect and appreciate is that they are truly a team. As I said, we have several projects and the danger is that a group can divide into silos in which dyads and triads will divide to work on only their project. Not this team. Everyone is working on multiple projects and has a clear idea of their role and how to contribute. They are also willing to be flexible and do more or less in a given research study based on the group’s needs.
How do you motivate your team members? Any memorable incident to share?
I’ve tried a lot of tactics to motivate staff and have come to the realization that a key is hiring people who have a sense of mission and then expressing gratitude and providing feedback. I hope my team would agree that they seldom receive an e-mail or another request from me that does not include the words “please” and “thank you”. (I have a habit of scanning e-mails for these keywords before hitting “send”.) I also try to recognize individual or group efforts with either an e-mail or thanking them the next time I see them.
Also, our team deals with many difficult and challenging situations. If I know someone dealt with difficult circumstances, I follow-up with a chat to hear how it went and give the person an opportunity to debrief on several levels.
How would you help a team member who wants to grow?
One way is to continuously point out learning opportunities including training offered at our university to podcasts to which they can listen. Another way is to help people frame issues and events mentally. This is especially helpful in situations they find annoying. It helps to recognize that the people with whom we are working (e.g., patients, co-workers, others both inside and outside of our institution) are doing the best that they can and try to see the situation as that person sees it. If you can do this, you’ll last a long time and stay positive.
Define what is passion and success to you.
It’s getting up most mornings and wanting to get in there to do a good job and learn something. For me, that is both passion and success. I don’t attach a dollar figure or job title to that. Obviously, if your occupation is to be where you fulfill the need for passion and striving for success, it has to be something that will allow you to earn a living.
What would you say to our younger generations who are hungry for success?
- Be careful how you define success.
- If you are really hungry for success, then go “all in”; don’t try half measures or baby steps.
On the latter point, I am a big fan of the writing of Ramit Sethi of http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com. (Note: This is not necessarily a product endorsement nor am I a consumer of his products.) He writes wonderful material about personal entrepreneurial development. He frequently talks about all of the excuses we make for not pushing forward on our goals. Currently, I am embarking on a new venture and his writing helped me realize that nothing is going to change if I kept making baby steps and half-measures.
Before we let you go, any final words for our readers here?
No, Kally. It feels like I have said quite a bit here. Thank you for the opportunity to chat with you.
Thank you so much, Chris, for your time and joining us over at MiddleMe. This is a refreshing take from a manager himself. If you enjoy reading the interview as much as I did the interview, scoot over to his blog and take a look at some of his fabulous photographs. You’ll be amazed at what you see!