Sure, conducting formal interviews is a necessity, but sometimes, it’s good to take a potential employee out of the work environment.
Chauncey C. Mayfield, president and CEO of MayfieldGentry Realty Advisors LLC, says that if he is interested in hiring somebody, he meets that person for a drink outside the office. He finds that doing so allows him or her to relax and gives Mayfield a better idea of who that person is.
“In a social setting, even though you are talking to a potential employer, in a social setting, people tend not to be as guarded,” says Mayfield, who oversees the real estate investment management company, which has about $1 billion worth of assets under management.
Smart Business spoke with Mayfield about how to be a team player while leading the team and how to communicate that team concept to employees.
Q: What are the keys to being a good leader?
First and foremost, for me at least, is you’ve got to set a clear direction what are you trying to accomplish, how you intend to get there, what gives the people around you confidence that you have both the personal acumen, professional acumen as well as the resources to get where you are trying to get to?
The second thing, I think, you have to demonstrate that you’re not simply a leader but a team player who happens to lead the team. My leadership style is to demonstrate to my team I am capable and will, in other words, get my hands dirty with them, right beside them.
The last point about leadership, I believe, is you have to be able to pick a team where people clearly understand the strength of the team is in the whole, not in the individual. Absolutely no one individual will, in every single circumstance, dictate the success of the team. My responsibility on a day-to-day basis, and I say this almost daily, my job is to protect the whole, not an individual. An individual that is running counter to the success of the whole, it’s my job to deal with.
Q: How do you monitor the strength of the team?
It first begins with fit. I interview every single person that comes to work for us. I don’t care if it is the receptionist or the chief investment officer.
I spend time, and what I am trying to determine is, I’m trying to understand how you would fit within our organization. What I am looking for is your ability to work within the team. I look for, ‘How important is it to you to be singled out as the reason we’re successful? How important is it to you that you need ongoing confirmation of your worth?’
Because that, in my opinion, is an individual player. So, I start with fit to see if you fit within the organization.
And if we’ve picked the right person, then by virtue of the assignments people are given, you can tell whether or not they are working individually, working within the team. The way you do that, the way we monitor that, is that not all the assignments come from their direct report. The assignments may come directly from me.
The second thing is that the direct report, while he or she has responsibilities for the group or for that division, I interact with the people under them directly. I do not delegate my interactions with people.
Q: How do you make employees understand they need to be team players?
What we try hard to convey is that if you were to envision our environment as a basketball team, while you may be on the starting five, the guy you are defending may, in fact, be a better player than you, and there is just no way you can stop him from scoring. You can do one of two things. One, somebody can come in off the bench and help, or you can switch players. So [you say], ‘You defend that guy; I’ll switch over to this guy.’ The most important thing we want people to understand is there may be a task that may not be your strong suit, and it’s OK to say, ‘I need help.’ You don’t get penalized for it.
You get penalized, in fact, if we fail, and then you said, ‘I really wasn’t cut out to do that task anyway.’ We encourage people to say, A, ‘That’s not my strong suit,’ or B, ‘I simply need help in order to make the deadline.’
HOW TO REACH: MayfieldGentry Realty Advisors LLC, (313) 221-1270 or www.mayfieldgentry.com