In continuation of our 101 series, here’s the next one for aspiring and experienced bosses: how to get the most out of your teams. Having managed teams myself, this is from my personal experience.
Hire Right. Hire someone for their passion.
If you’re hiring them yourself, then there’s no point complaining later about their attitude or performance. Instead, make time to assess the candidate on parameters important to you. Knowledge can be learnt on the job. But if the candidate lacks key skills and does not have a can-do attitude, they are a risk. Create a list of questions to crosscheck their skills, attitude, passion and motivation. Never hire someone who wants to work for you only for the money. This person’s heart and mind will not be in the job. The person who eventually pays the price will be you.
Be clear on expectation.
Let your team know what is expected of them from the start. Let them know team goals and the order of priority. That way, they will know what to focus on and what to drop if needed. Keep lines of communication open to ensure that you are available or any resource is available to them when it is needed.
Cut un-necessary approvals and red tape. Don’t be a hurdle.
There are many bosses who fail because of over management. They have no confidence in their teams’ ability to deliver and they make this very clear by breathing down their necks and insisting on approving every element of their work. This is draining and frustrating for teams. Once you have communicated your expectations clearly and ensured they have the resources they need, it is time for you to step back. Believe your team knows how best to achieve them. Work towards empowering them so they can take decisions on their own rather than rely on multiple-level approvals. This means things get done faster. This requires that you trust your team for their capabilities and trust their judgement. If you have too many processes, that can be detrimental too.
Feedback is serious business.
Most bosses think feedback is their sole right to give. But feedback is a 360 degree process. A good boss will be open to feedback about his approach as well. Feedback is also the best way to ensure you and your team grow as individuals. Keep the lines of communication open to give and receive feedback. Nobody is perfect and there is scope of improvement in each person. So, set aside some time every month and ask your team to give you feedback on what’s going on, what can be done better, and how you can enable that change. Bosses who are immune to feedback and need to prove they are always right will not survive for too long. Also, take time to share feedback with your team so they know what they need to continue and what they need to improve.
Show growth path.
Without knowledge of a vision, people feel their work is in vain and sooner or later they will lose interest and burn out. Everybody wants to grow. Show your team the big picture, the goal you are all working towards and what’s in it for them – in terms of learning, training, possible recognition.
Drive team cohesiveness.
Take enough time to convey this important message: though each member has their own KRAs, the team has a common goal. Set guidelines on how the team will work, what ethos you will follow, what best practices will you adopt, and so on. Everyone needs to a clear understanding on team dynamics. Create opportunities for your team to know each other and have fun with each other. Team cohesiveness builds better bonds. From better bonds come a more sympathetic understanding of the other’s strengths and weaknesses, and this creates better work outcomes.
Identify a lemon.
Despite your best efforts, there will always be that one team member or two who undermine everything you do. This has nothing to do with you. They are locked in a place where they cannot help themselves. Call them out in the team. Don’t make it personal. Just point out their unproductive behaviour. Have feedback sessions with them to understand what they need from you to succeed. If, after this, they still show no signs of improvement, let them go or have them transferred. Some bad apples cannot be fixed and that’s OK. You need to learn which people are not worth the time investment – as per your values and priorities – and let them go from your team.
This may sound strange but be a human being first and a boss later. History is full of know-it-all bosses who alienate their teams at the cost of being right or having it their way. This kind of an approach dehumanizes people over the long term and will make you highly repellent to future recruiters and team members. Take time to make yourself human and vulnerable. It’s alright if you don’t know everything. It’s important to listen and understand what people have to say before reacting. Learn to read your team’s body language and emotions – this will make you sensitive to their needs. But don’t be too understanding either, or they will exploit you. It’s a delicate balance you need to create. People will forget what you told them but they will never forget how you made them feel – so make sure you make them always feel empowered and joyful, not disempowered, angry and resentful.
About the Author:
Sandhya Reddy is an Executive coach, Leadership and Business coach based in Bangalore, India. She is the Founder and Principal Coach at Chapter Two Coaching, a coaching consultancy that enables everyone from CEOs to work-from-home parents and entrepreneurs to achieve their goals by replacing self-imposed limitations with enabling stories.