As a leader, how much more can you get from your teams? In my conversations, earlier this week, with three different groups of leaders, there was common agreement on their desire to get ‘more’ from their teams in terms of performance. A range of suggestions emerged including the need for meaningful prioritization and laser-like focus in terms of tasks and initiatives.
However, some of the best tips related to what might be called the ‘softer’ side – personal motivation, reflection before action, challenging feedback and group dynamics.
Here are some of the suggestions that emerged, I’ve expanded them somewhat for clarity:
1.) Get committed if you find yourself not fully engaged.
- It’s hard to drive levels of engagement that are higher than your own. If you’re lacking commitment, it shows in your face. It’s apparent in the way you hold yourself. It affects your pace, your demeanor, even the way you communicate. If your “get up and go” has “got up and gone,” people will see right through you.
- So get your own house in order. What’s turning you off? Turn it back on. Lost interest? Figure out what will excite you again and get involved.
- Something niggling away at you? Confront it. Bring it out into the open and get it resolved. Frustrated? Talk to the person who can make a difference in the situation. Find your commitment again and bring people along with you.
2.) Listen before you act to gain buy-in.
- Focused on action? Eager to get started? Anxious to get results? These are great qualities for getting to the bottom line. But when you’re driving results through others, you need to slow down and include them in your thinking.
- People can’t follow you if they don’t know where you are going, and why. Give them the big picture of what needs to happen. Invite them to flesh out ideas and plans. Work with them to define plans and expectations. Help them prioritize their own efforts.
- Start with a brainstorming session. “Here’s what we need to do. How can we do this?” Collaborate on creating a plan. Or hand it off to them. Check in. Stay involved to see how things are going. Let them know how their efforts contribute to bigger organizational goals.
3.) Deal with objections if you’re getting resistance.
- It’s your job to drive a major initiative. You’ve got your resources, your timeline, your plans. Everything looks good – until a key group or person raises objections. Why are we doing this? What will this cost? Why are we changing what we’ve done for so long?
- The best change leaders don’t get derailed by pushback. They anticipate resistance. They are equipped to handle the heat of controversy. They allow time to hear objections. Individual meetings. Town halls. Phone conferences. They answer objections and make course corrections. But they don’t lose sight of the endgame. The vision. The results.
- Encourage more objections. If you sense people are holding back, get concerns out on the table. Ask for specifics. Dig deep. Get to the root of the resistance. Understand what’s behind the dissent. See it from their point of view. If you were in their shoes, what would you need to hear to be converted?
4.) Encourage people to open up regarding how they’re feeling about things.
- Engaging others can be a challenge if you don’t know what you’re working with. If you want to make things better for people, you need to know the size of the gap you need to fill.
- Trouble is, people don’t always want to talk about why they’re disengaged. The trick is to find a way to encourage people to open up and lay their cards on the table. Let them know you’d like to help make things better for them.
- Ask questions, but be gentle. Be specific – ask them how they’re feeling about something in particular rather than things in general. Don’t rush them. Be patient. Listen attentively and actively.
- Use a survey to establish what people are happy about and what needs to improve. Take action to address issues that surface.
5.) Address team dynamics if the group is not performing up to expectations.
- Leading a stalled project? In danger of missing the goal? Delivering subpar performance? Every group and team is made up of individuals. Some who may be giving more than others. Some who may be willing but struggling. Some may have “checked out” for reasons of their own.
- If this is happening, assess the team as a whole. Does it have an agreed-upon goal? The right mix of skills? The resources it needs? Adequate support from the organization? Make the changes you need to make to ensure results are achieved.
- Look at individuals. Do you need to switch out some team members or bring in new skills? Encourage different working relationships? Stimulate new collaborations? Address conflict?
6.) Have some fun.
- When the pressure is on and the pace is fast, it’s easy to forget to relax, to let off steam, to breathe. There’s a time and a place for everything and having a bit of fun is no exception. Free your team’s spirit of adventure. Cast aside the serious business of work for a little while.
- Create the opportunity for your people to get to know each other on a personal level. What do they have in common? How are they different? Who are they beyond their day job? What do they really care about? What makes them tick?
- All these things surface more readily when people step out of a role and become themselves. Learning about people means learning how to engage them. And fun is not just a frivolous waste of time if it helps increase people’s engagement.
- When your team is highly engaged, commitment to achieve increases and the organization benefits. It pays to have fun!
Getting a bit more from your team should be a priority for all leaders. Rather than taking your usual approach, see if you can’t adopt some alternate approaches that generate new enthusiasm and improved performance.
To get focused insight on how your teams can be more effective, contact me today (firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-882-8830).