“I’m so frustrated with my team. We are not hitting our deadlines, and I’m at the point where it’s quicker to do it myself than to try to explain it and go through multiple revisions.”
Does this sound familiar to you? I’ll bet you’d rather be saying this:
“My team is a powerhouse. They took the ball and ran with it with very little supervision needed. They even found new ways to deliver above and beyond what was expected — we were recognized for the great value we delivered to our customers.”
The difference in those two teams isn’t the employees — it’s the manager. More specifically, the manager’s leadership approach. Many of us land into management roles because we are good at what we do, but that doesn’t mean we automatically understand what it takes to be a great manager. We’ve developed 3 simple tips for managers to incorporate leadership skills and achieve breakthrough results!
Here’s how it works:
When the team isn’t delivering to our expectations, we feel the pressure and jump in to “fix” the problems. Often this involves:
- Increasing the frequency of status updates (or agile daily stand-ups) to keep tighter control on each person’s progress, and
- Re-structuring the team’s work to find some “quick wins” to show to leadership.
Neither of these approaches addresses the root cause, which is typically that the team doesn’t truly have a sense of what outcomes are most important to their internal and external customers.
While good managers plan, organize and allocate resources, and direct activities of others to attain goals, GREAT managers motivate people to do their best work and achieve meaningful goals. Great managers help the team to understand the expected value and criticality of their work; how they fit into the “big picture”. Rather than assigning work, great managers invite the team to co-create a shared vision for team success. They talk realistically about what will be needed to accomplish this vision for success while honoring their other personal and professional priorities. Often this requires re-focusing the team on the top 2–3 shared priorities — the ones that will deliver the most value, not necessarily the easiest — and putting others into a backlog.
Average managers play checkers, while great managers play chess.” ‘What great managers do’, Harvard Business Review March 2005,
Great managers demonstrate another leadership quality that truly sets them apart: They discover what is unique about each person and then capitalize on it, challenging each employee to excel in his or her own way.
Envision that your team is self-directed and capable of critical thinking about their work, rather than waiting for you to provide task level approval and solve their problems. This doesn’t happen overnight, but starts when you:
*Stop offering solutions and instead expect each person to identify options, constraints and recommendations when they face issues.
*Encourage greater collaboration between team members with different viewpoints and expertise and helping them to become aware of their dominant personality traits.
Reality has a way of disrupting even the best laid plans. When the team hits obstacles in their work, they’ll need to pull together to find a way to overcome challenges quickly in order to achieve success. Use status meetings to openly share failures and lessons learned. Offer your team the psychological safety needed to take risks and share the real-world stories that each person can learn from. Shared accountability means that the entire team needs to link arms to achieve success — if one person isn’t completing their commitments, their team jumps into brainstorming mode to find a way to stay on track. The research is in; these creative ideas often lead to unexpected breakthroughs! Integrating leadership techniques may feel awkward at first but you’ll quickly realize the benefits as your team develops and refines critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will serve them long into the future. You can LEAD your team to deliver powerhouse results!