Helping employees help you

Lynne Wines wants to develop her employees, but there’s a catch.

They have to help her grow, too.

So the CEO of CNLBank’s South Florida region, which claims 32 of the company’s 225 employees, looks for team players. She expects them to call out her mistakes, just like she does to help them improve.

She cultivates that culture by setting an example. Although she’s not perfect, she relies on her team members to fill in the gaps.

“Look for mentors on every level,” says Wines, whose region has $275 million in deposits as of June 30. “You can learn from people that are a lot more experienced than you, and you can learn from people that work for you. Being open to that process is an important part of my development.”

Smart Business spoke to Wines about setting the pace for your culture of teamwork and interdependence — and improving yourself in the process.

Find team players. Having the right people around you that tell you when you’re crazy or tell you when you’re wrong is very important. From my husband and my son to the people that I’ve worked with for a long time, I count on them to tell me when I’m wrong or when I’m not seeing the whole picture or when I’m not necessarily thinking clearly and I’m maybe thinking too emotionally or haven’t looked at all the facts. I count on all the people I work with to point that out to me. Part of their responsibility is to tell me when I miss something.

I’ve always been a big believer in building a team that complements each other but that are not necessarily alike, so we create interdependence amongst each other. We create an environment where we rely on each other to cover our backs. You find that by figuring out … who’s self-serving and who’s a servant leader.

If somebody tells you about their mentor, you can usually tell if they are willing to credit somebody else with some of their success or whether they have to own all the credit. Generally, if somebody has to own all the credit, they’re not going to be willing to mentor others or be mentored by others or be a good team player. So that’s a good question to ask, ‘How have you been mentored?’

Build interdependence. That comes by building the right culture of open communication and respect for each other. So I wouldn’t call anybody else out in public and embarrass them, and I wouldn’t expect somebody to do that to me. But if I thought one of my employees made a mistake, I have a responsibility to point it out to them because I have a responsibility to try to teach them to grow and improve. They have that same responsibility to me. It’s really building a culture of respect and interdependence and teamwork.

It absolutely starts at the top. If somebody comes to me with a solution, I will say, ‘Have you checked with the other three people on the team?’ Over time, they get that they’re not even going to bother to come to me with a suggestion or a solution until they’ve already checked with the other three people. That’s how you build teamwork. They start to learn that they’re going to be more successful if they work as a team than if they work independently.