I talk a lot about investing in your team, how connection and building relationships lay the groundwork for everything that will make you and your team successful and happy. As I was pondering my next grouping of articles, it struck me that the one push back I get across the board is that these approaches are too hard or take up too much time. And I think, in a way, they are right. At first. At first, it may be difficult, but isn't anything worth having a bit difficult to obtain?
I don't believe that I've ever said things will be easy, but I've also not said it's going to take some effort either. I think in order to build an empowered and productive team, whether you are new to management or know that you need to change your approach, you employ two habits.
Belief and Effort.
You must wholeheartedly believe in what you are doing. Your values, your goals strategies approaches...whatever you want to call them, you must believe that the path you are on is the right path. That doesn't mean you won't adjust things along the way but must truly have faith that the behaviors and processes you are putting in place are to build an empowered, engaged, healthy and happy team.
Then you need to put the effort into taking your belief into a reality. It will not happen overnight. For example, you may have to go months on end and persevere through getting your team to feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts and opinions. Why? Well, most likely because they are jaded...they don't have faith. They don't believe that you are actually going to listen to what they have to say. That could be because you are a new manager and they don't know you yet or it could be because you are a manager who has never listened...and they are trying to figure out if you are for real or putting them on.
There are many different people like me, offering what works for them...their suggestions, tips, steps to follow. They all have merit, however, certain approaches will suit you and some won't. When I put my ideas on video or in writing, I don't expect that they will meet everyone's approval or match their goals. I know everyone is different and my hope is that there is one thing that resonates with you that helps you build your skills.
I speak from a management or leadership perspective. And my approach is one of connecting with those you lead. I personally believe that you will never exceed all your expectations and goals if you can't connect with the team you lead...the team that actually does the work towards your expectations and goals.
Ok, so how do you implement the belief portion in what you are doing? First, you must know what you want to achieve and then from there you must outline what processes or behaviors take you to where you want to go. If you don't do the planning, how do you back yourself? How do you know what you are really aiming for?
And when I say processes and behaviors, I am talking about YOU...not everyone else. What are YOU going to do to make it happen?
Let's go through a simple example.
Goal: I want my team to communicate more and with clarity, so there are fewer misunderstandings and backbiting as well as less re-work due to correcting mistakes.
Now that sounds like a goal any manager can believe in!
How will you get them there?
Processes and Behaviors (Effort) to make the goal a reality:
Encourage conversation in meetings
Prod people to respond and share ideas
Actively listen when others speak (lead by example)
Thank those that speak up, even if the idea/thought is not on target
Encourage those who ask questions, to speak to their team first (if appropriate)
Stop limiting and negative behavior in conversations immediately
Encourage healthy debates in order to reach the best outcomes
Seek opinions from the team
Put ideas, opinions, thoughts from the team into action
This is just one example and I know it probably sounds like common sense. But remember, common sense doesn't always mean common practice and in this particular example, I know of so many managers that don't employ these practices. They seem to enjoy the chaos and spin of a dysfunctional team much more than reaching goals and moving everyone forward.
So, again, no one said it was going to be easy. You have to believe in what you are doing and you must put effort into making it a reality. Yes, it can be hard to change your approach. You may have people not trust the new approach, the new you. You may have to come at them consistently for months re-assuring them that you really care about them functioning well as a team.
But! Once you put the work in and the team starts putting the practices in themselves...then it's less work on you and you can focus on the next rung in the ladder.
It's never too late to change your approach. You just need to believe in what you want for your team and put the effort into making it happen.
Lead with Greatness!!