What if there was a simple mental model you could use as a tool to quickly assess the likelihood that the people you lead will be able to deliver what you ask of them?

As leaders, we know that to be most effective we need to “know our people.” Knowing, acknowledging, valuing, and appreciating your people is one aspect of knowing your people. But today we are talking about knowing how each stack up when assessing them using the WAG – the “Willing and Able Grid.”

The Willing and Able (WAG) Grid

The Willing and Able (WAG) Grid

When it comes to increasing the quality and/or quantity of work, putting the right people on the right projects is for sure what we attempt to do. When we are after higher levels or better quality of production, we often prod or gently push our people to grow, develop, and improve. But are they equipped to do what we ask?

Using the “Willing and Able Grid” provides leaders a quick snapshot of your team members – which can then be used to develop your people as you strive to bring the best output of each.

With a certain project, endeavor, or a specific type of improvement you want to see in a direct report, where on the “Unwilling or Willing” continuum would you plot them?

Where would you plot them on the Willing Continuum?

Where would you plot them on the Willing Continuum?

What evidence do you see and hear that causes you to assess if one of your people possesses a heart attitude of willingness or unwillingness to do, grow, or change the way you are asking?

Related to the change, work, project results, or growth you want to see in this team member, what indicates to you that this person is Unwilling or Willing? Think of hitting “Replay” on an imaginary video cam in the corner of all workspaces to review the facts of how this person displays and conveys an attitude of willingness or unwillingness.

Obviously we are looking for “Willing” souls who desire to grow, improve, and take on challenges. So when we assess a team member and find the scales tip toward “Unwillingness,” we may have some potential coaching to do. We may need to prepare and hold a direct conversation about the display of this attitude. That’s when the Replay function of the “camera in the corner” becomes useful. We can share as factually as possible (since a camera doesn’t lie) what we’ve seen, and check our perceptions. Hopefully we can nurture the desire within this team member to grow and improve.

When assessing who the best person is for a project or endeavor, or when you consider a specific type of improvement you want to see in a direct report, where on the “Unable to Able” continuum would you plot them?

Where would you plot them on the Able Continuum?

Where would you plot them on the Able Continuum?

Sometimes when we get focused on the outcomes we are after, we forget to assess the ability level of those we lead. Does she currently possess the Ability to do what I am asking or expecting? Does he demonstrate the aptitude to become Able to meet the expectation?

As you honestly reflect on the ability level of one of your people related to a specific project or aspect of growth, if you find that he may truly be Unable to execute on your expectations today, then you know the responsibility rests on you as the leader to help him develop that ability. You will either need to provide opportunities for this person to learn, develop, and become Able, or you will need to look to others to get that job done.

Finding one of your team members to be more Unable than Able related to a certain project or aspect of growth isn’t a bad thing! This new awareness provides us as leaders the opportunity to design an individualized plan of development for each of our people.

Using the “Willing and Able Grid” allows us to discern if what we are asking our people to do is going to get done! It allows us to discover how we can approach communicating with our people, optimally getting the most out of each of our people – because when our attitude is Willing, and our skill-set is Able, progress is on the horizon.

~ Written by Dr. Heidi Scott, Leadership Consultant, Speaker and Coach      www.LearningPursuits.com