They say people don’t leave their companies, they leave their managers. If that is true it means employees leave their jobs because they feel let down by their managers.
Team members are tricky assets to manage. Sometimes, someone may seem alright from the outside. But on the inside, they may be struggling with issues. And they may be finding it hard to communicate these issues with you. Meanwhile you carry on assuming things are fine. Then one fine day, the employee leaves. And you wonder what happened.
That’s why it’s important to proactively maintain healthy team dynamics and to find ways to keep motivating team members. This is the most concerted way to retaining people and achieving your collective goals.
Here are 10 ways to get things right with your team:
Set clear expectations
It seems like a basic thing but many managers do a poor job of communicating what they expect from their team members. But at the same time they can also be fastidious about results. What happens? The team member is working hard with no clear goal in mind. This is a recipe for frustration. Everyone needs a goal. Set clear goals for your team members. Let them know what is expected of them.
Empower your people to work without bottlenecks
Once the goals are set, ensure the team is empowered to do the job with adequate resources. Do not ignore calls for help when it comes to infrastructure or people. Do not become a stumbling block by making yourself the approver for every plan. Give them the freedom to work without bottlenecks.
Scrap time-consuming approvals.
Plenty of time is wasted by bureaucratic approvals that add no incremental value to the project and frustrate people. Lay down the approval hierarchy clearly so team members don’t waste time on meaningless approvals. Hire people you trust so you can delegate the job to them without micro managing. That way they can grow and you also get time to pursue more strategic tasks.
Recognize the team for their work
Many managers are quick to extract work out of their people but are slow to giving recognition. If a job has been done well, congratulate the team. If there is a success or an important milestone, treat the team by taking them out. You don’t have to keep handing out fat bonuses. You can do many small things to make people feel valued. These things go a long way.
Don’t use a one-size-fits-all approach
Though all team members are important, it is true that each one’s role is different, and some deliver more critical work than others. Your star performer needs to know they are the star. Similarly, your average or low performers need to know they have to improve. Do not use a one-size-fits-all approach to people management. The good ones will feel under-appreciated and the not so good ones will not know their flaws. Also, customize your rewards for different people based on their personalities. Not all team members like to be treated in the same way. Some like recognition in a team meeting while some other prefer appreciation in private. Understand what makes the person tick and work accordingly.
Step into their shoes
Empathy is a much needed skill in our workplaces today. It is the ability and the willingness to understand where your team member is coming from. If someone under performs, don’t just pull him them up. Perhaps he is facing issues he does not know how to discuss. Maybe he is having issues at home. You don’t have to solve all their problems. But you do need to be sensitive to a person’s emotional well-being. For instance, if someone is unwell and is requesting to work from home for a few days, don’t make it difficult for them. Try and be supportive. Instead of saying no or cutting pay, try and expand your horizons by agreeing to the idea on the basis of some new ground rules. Seek to understand, always.
Do not play favourites
Everyone has one team member they like the most. Perhaps it is because they work hardest or are most reliable. Perhaps it can be because we feel they are like us. But, in your best interest, let this liking remain inside you. Don’t express it too much and don’t make it obvious. It can make other team members feel insecure and create unnecessary power struggles in the team.
Cover their back
Has this ever happened to you? You take a tough call while at the workplace. You believe you did the best you could under the circumstances. But in the end, things take a bad turn and the client is upset. Your boss, instead of supporting you, tries to distance himself from the situation. He also blames you for what went wrong. If that felt miserable, remember to not do the same to your team members. Being a team member requires an incredible amount of courage and responsibility. You have to support well-intentioned failures. You cannot be nice only when they have a good day and leave them high and dry when they are foundering. That creates disloyalty and strains relationships.
Walk the talk
Most of all do not say one thing and do another. Team members are like children. They are quick to spot flaws in authority figures. If you have asked everyone to submit their budgets for the next quarter by Nov 30, and if you yourself have not done your budgeting, then you have a problem. Similarly, if you expect team members to be diligent and do their homework but you don’t your own homework before meeting a client, then it reflects poorly on you. On the other hand, if you follow all the things you preach, then they will respect you and do anything for you.
About the Author:
Sandhya Reddy is a leadership & transformation 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 to achieve their goals by replacing self-imposed limitations with enabling stories.
Many of us in our thirties experience a disquieting realization: what brought us to middle-management may not take us to senior-management. This is true. To chart a new career path, one needs to think and do things differently. This is where Sandhya can help. She is a coach. Life coaching, executive coaching, business coaching, personality development, leadership coaching… they are all part of her forte. Her Executive coaching programs helps tomorrow’s leaders set new goals, make new plans to achieve those goals, get that elusive promotion through a blend of knowledge, action and image-building, enhance influence among the leadership team, be more productive, get more out of one’s team, and be known in the company as an indispensable performer and future leader.