As leaders many of us want to create a collaborative environment for our teams. Recently I was speaking to a very capable woman who expressed dismay that despite her efforts to get members of her team to speak up, when she asked her team for input, they responded with silence.
Most of us were promoted because we are very capable. We get things done. The challenge when we become leaders is to make space for others to step forward and do the same thing that we did so that we have a high performing team.
The key to remember is that our teams are made up of people. People need to have more than the contractual relationship (i.e. they work and they get a paycheck in return) to be engaged. People have feelings and they need to feel as though they are an important part of something greater. Our jobs as leaders is to foster that engagement so that our teams do their best work.
Here are five steps that you can take to create an environment to make your team step forward.
- Share information. You are your team’s primary conduit to the company. Be sure to share information about what is going on, even if you are not sure that it affects them. Transparency is key.
- Think about a time when you were empowered to do your best and you delivered fantastic results. How much freedom did your boss give you on that project to make decisions about how things should be done? What decisions did he or she make and what decisions were up to you? How and how often did your boss get progress reports? Use this as a guideline when assigning projects. Remember that there are times when you need to get out of the way.
- Define what success looks like up front, when you assign work. There is nothing more demoralizing than getting what you think is a finished product back from your boss that is full of edits and corrections. Set your expectations clearly up front and when you review the final product, make sure that any changes you make are absolutely necessary.
- Create a supportive environment. Model respect for all members of your team, and make sure that everyone has an opportunity to speak and be heard. When you and a team member disagree, take it off line. When you have that offline conversation, be sure to remember that your objective is to communicate while preserving that relationship.
- If you want to hear your team’s opinion, offer yours last. Frame the situation by giving the background, constraints and desired results and then ask for input. If possible, let staff know that they will be asked for their opinion on the topic ahead of time, so that all have time to think about what they want to say. If you give your opinion before seeking the advice of the team, they will conclude that you have made up your mind and that there is no point in risking disagreement.
Your success as a leader depends on how well you engage your team, and you may be surprised how much more engaged people will be if you learn when to step back.
Question: What have you done to better engage your team?
Leadership/Career Coach Kris Ishibashi works with leaders to bring together their skills, their authentic selves, and their intentions to inspire their organizations to superior performance. Click here to set up a complimentary consultation.