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Gail Warrior helps employees reach their full potential Featured

8:01pm EDT May 31, 2011
Gail Warrior helps employees reach their full potential

“Life is in session.”

The Jennifer Aniston quote from “The Switch” resonated with Gail Warrior when she saw the movie last year.

“It’s such a simple quote, but when you break it down, life is in session 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Warrior says. “There are no timeouts or redos or breaks. You can’t say, ‘Give me a different life.’ The life that you’re given is the one that you have to live. It’s up to you how you’re going to live that life.”

In that same way, as president and CEO of Warrior Group Inc., a provider of premier construction services, she uses that quote to move her business and her employees forward, having grown the organization from $14.9 million in revenue in 2006 to $124 million in 2009.

Smart Business spoke with Warrior about how she pushes her employees to be better.

How do you help employees reach their full potential?

Be willing to first listen to what it is people want from their individual life and then find a way to gently push them or nudge them in the necessary or right direction. Oftentimes, there may be things that I may not want to do from a business perspective, but after listening to my executive team, they say, ‘We really need to go down this path.’ I say, ‘OK, you’re right.’

A lot of times we have our minds made up about how things should go in one direction. Sometimes it can take an act of Congress to convince somebody to make a different decision. In creating leaders in Warrior Group, it requires a lot of patience and a (willingness) to listen and being able to nudge people in a certain direction.

How do you nudge them in that direction without telling them?

Ask questions. ‘Do you feel like this is the direction you need to go in?’ and ‘Tell me why.’ Get their feedback. ‘Why did you make the decision you made? Is there another decision or avenue you could have done in this particular situation?’ and let them start thinking about that versus saying, ‘You know you should have done this — why did you do it like this?’

If you do it that way, then immediately the other person will go into defense mode. Then, at that point, they’re not interested and don’t want to hear anything you have to say because you just discounted them. But if you ask questions and get clarification and more information, then ask another question and say, ‘Is there another opportunity?’ and have a discussion about that, then that creates a learning situation.

How do you get people to want to reach their full potential?

One of the things we’re very good at is hiring 9s and 10s in the organization, and a lot of times, people are afraid of hiring 9s and 10s because they feel they may outshine them.

We always look for the cream of the crop and the top-notch people. When you see organizations where that doesn’t happen, you see organizations that people want to make excuses and processes are broken internally, and there’s just not a good flow of communication internally and sometimes externally. People that are 9s and 10s are people that come into work, and they are excited about what they do, they have a passion for what they do, and they have a passion for life and the impact they can make.

Let’s say, for example, you are a marketing director, and you’re looking for a marketing assistant and you find someone that has a skill set that’s a higher skill set than yours, and you’re the director. You feel like, ‘Well, if I hire this person, I don’t want them to show me up.’ The real mindset should be, ‘I need to hire this person because not only will they help the organization grow, but they have skills and tools that I can learn from individually and I can grow, as well.’

Sometimes people are afraid to do that. That just comes with knowing who you are individually and being comfortable with yourself and what your talents are and not being afraid to hire someone who has some stronger talent. If that was the case, I never would have ended up in construction.

How to reach: Warrior Group Inc., (866) 927-4787 or www.warrior-group.net