Have you ever just sat back and taken an assessment of your team? Thought about how well they work together (or not)? Tried to figure out how to get the team more productive? As managers, that is our biggest role in really getting our team to perform better. The better the team performance definitely demonstrates a better manager. Some would argue that maybe the manager does not play a big part in the overall performance of a team, but I do. All it takes is to look at a failing team and how quickly is it blamed on the manager. Sports usually fire the manager before it rids itself of players. Same holds true for business types, just not in the news as much. Give credit for good managers having performing teams.
So what all goes into a solid team? What can you as a manager do to have the greatest impact? For me, there are a number of web based tools out there that can help you walk through an assessment of your team’s dynamics. Do a Bing or Google search – I have used many different types. There is not one that I have found that is a great one stop shop that I would recommend over the others. Each assessment tool is just that a tool to help you identify areas of potential work that needs to be done. First and foremost, you as the manager, need to find a quiet spot and clear your head of everything. You need to really be honest with “your” assessment of your team. Remember the end goal is to make your team perform better, rather than making you think they are better. Once you are ready, grab one of those assessments and walk through your team’s dynamics.
What did you find? I have written my Leadership Checklist to help me (and others) to help make sure that the manager (you) are doing your part in the process. Look it over, hopefully you are doing those and everything else.
One of the areas that I want this post to focus on is something that most assessment really struggle to cover. It centers on how tight the friendships are with your team. I want you to think back when you were growing up with your friends. When there were two friends working together was fairly easy. Do you have only a two person team? Normally not. So, when a third friend came in, how did that go? Usually after awhile stuff ended up two against one. Do you have a three person team? Probably not. Add more folks to the mix and the team starts to break up in to smaller sub teams. Something to watch out for. That is not always a bad thing, if the team is working for the good of all…
Friendships have its positive effects:
- Friends usually communicate better together. Drawing others into the discussions. Gives the team a good “social” feel. People usually enjoy working together. Which has an impact on behavior and results.
There are negative effects as well:
- With a team of 3 or more there is a feeling of being excluded. Remember growing up… Maybe it was not you feeling excluded, but did someone feel excluded? Causing not all of the team to participate in decision-making. You can easily start to have sub-groups forming. Causing communication to further breakdown. Now information will not flow freely among the team. The teams overall performance will suffer, count on it.
When you are sitting down thinking about your team and that assessment, remember to revisit the natural factors of friendship and how it will influence the overall team. With the positive you would rather have inclusion… Exclusion is just plain wrong.
, New To Management
, Leading Teams
, team dynamics
I started looking over my leadership and managing teams blog posts and started to notice that I probably should put an overall leader checklist to it. I have had the extreme privilege of leading many different teams and organizations. When I first started out, I used to think about what I would want to see… Since I was an ace-doer that was promoted to supervisor – I had a good feeling what I as a member of the team would want to see from my supervisor. Over the years, I have expanded my reach and experiences. No longer was an ace-doer for the organizations that I belonged. I was hired not for doing the work, but leading the team to get the work done. I needed to change and add to my start up of those teams. Reflecting back, I started to see that checklist come to me.
Here is that leader checklist:
- Articulate a vision: Formulate a clear and persuasive vision and communicate it to all members of the team. Most organizations may already have a vision statement or mission statement. Look it over. Ask your team to communicate it back to you. See what is missing and come up with that vision that fits the team, organization and you (as the leader).
- Think and act strategically: Get ready to make your vision a reality. Time to set up goals that achieve that vision, both is the short and long term. Don’t forget to consider all the players and anticipate reactions and resistance before they are manifest. Being prepared is key to success.
- Honor the team: Frequently express your confidence in and support for those who work with and for you. Use your team to help with every step you take.
- Take charge: Make sure to set up a workplace environment that is about action (getting stuff done).
- Act decisively: Make good and timely decisions, and ensure that they are executed.
- Communicate persuasively: Communicate, communicate, communicate. Easier said than done. Look for ways to insure that communicate happens and people never forget. This is one area that I have experimented everyday of my life. Just make sure that how you do it is simple and the messages are clear.
- Motivate the team: Set up a workplace environment that your team can not wait to come to work. Enjoys getting their work done.
- Embrace the front lines: The one thing that I remembered before I was a supervisor was how most supervisors did not spend anytime with the team. They did not let the team do anything other than run the equipment. I promised myself that I would never do that. Including the team is something that I feel is necessary for success.
- Build leadership in others: Develop leadership throughout. Have no fear in losing your folks to higher opportunities.
- Manage relations: Build enduring personal ties with those who look to you and work to harness the feelings and passions of the workplace.
- Identify personal implications: Help everybody appreciate the impact that the vision and strategy are likely to have on their own work and future with the firm.
- Convey your character: Being yourself. Make sure that in everything you do (communications and actions) should point to who you are. Your team should get to know you – through you.
- Keeping it real: Make sure that you never let over-optimism pop into your team. Success breeds success, but watch out threats, unresolved problems and taking unwarranted risks.
- Build a diverse team: Leadership is a team sport.. Make sure that your team is willing to be leaders in their particular area. Make sure that your team is not clones of yourself, get and welcome a diverse team.
Walking into a new situation or team can be a little scary. New anything gets the heart pumping. I look forward to these opportunities. Makes me think back and reflect (and practice) my checklist… Try it!
, New To Management
, Decision making
, Leading Teams
, team dynamics
image from Flickr via jk_photos
I have been thinking about his topic for awhile, motivating your team. When I was asked in an interview about how I motivate more team, I tried to answer it this way. “Motivating the team is a bit tricky. I don’t think that the manager has the responsibility to motivate their employees. They need to create an environment that is motivating to their team. Motivation is more internal. I like to insure that my team has the work environment that helps them be motivated to do their best.” Okay, before you go and attack that answer – there is more to the answer – just coming a bit later on. When I think of it is the manager’s responsibility to motivate his employee’s – I think of my time as a coach of youth sports and my time as a company commander in a training company. We all have seen coaches that are in your face – either cheering you on or screaming instructions to help get you to do what you want. I got some up close and personal experience watching drill sergeants motivate their trainees (see picture). Is that motivating? Would you like to have that be your manager’s style at the office? I believe that the successful coaches are the ones that have instilled an outstanding work environment that helps the player to motivate themselves. Much like my answer.
Getting back to my answer.. I really think there are some fundamental items that I like to insure that my team environment has…
- Open and Direct Communications : How many times have you heard, “I didn’t know that?” Or maybe, “if they would just communicate with us, we could get that done?” Old school management.. Tell your employees just what they need to know, nothing more, nothing less. Well, that does not work! Never really did.. Be very open and direct in your communications. Tell them everything. What harm is there in doing so? This also will help your employees see that they can tell you stuff as well. There have been many times I have learned something from them that I did not think of – just because we had a open and direct communications.
- Set a Good Example: As the manager, you really are out front and your team is watching and listening to you. It may sound silly, but how you present yourself in the beginning of the day will set the tone for your team the rest of the day. I know that not everyday is going to be perfect.. There will be something that happens (either at home or on the way to work) that will challenge you to be positive. You have to check all that before meeting your team.
- Saying “Thank-You”: Doesn’t cost a lot to say thanks for a job well done. Times are tough this days, not everyone has a budget to help out with giving away cash, gifts or raises. Saying “thanks” goes a long way. I learned early on, that I truly perked up when I was given a thank you. Hand written notes, email or just hearing the words worked for me. I started insuring that I did the same for my folks (they like it too). When times get better – or when the time is right – step up that thank you to something more (gift cards, cash, lunch).
- Give your time: What do you really have as a manager – your time. So, give that time to your employees. Work with them to build a solid working relationship. Help to understand what their passions and goals are. Help them develop and grow professionally. Your time will be well spent!
- Get dirty: I used to really enjoy getting in there and helping out from time to time. When I was in manufacturing, we had a senior manager that made it a priority that all supervisors and managers would work on the manufacturing line at the end of the month. Clear your calendars, get trained and do the work that your teams do! I looked forward to it. Watching the senior managers work along side the team – was a eye opening experience for all. Roll up your sleeves and do what the team does.
When I left the interview, and was driving home, I thought of a couple of more items that I do that just did not come to me.
- Look for some fun volunteer activities: I had this one time, that really rallied around one cause. We happened to have a team member that had a child with a disability. We wanted to help – so we decided to step away from the day to day work – to help out with the school that this team members child went to. Everyone was excited to help out. We had a great day! You could see your team in a different environment and watch their interactions. It was an eye opening experience for everyone. Plus we helped out a school in need. I am always looking for those opportunities.
- Tie everything to the big picture (without losing sight of the little picture): Making sure to tie the work that the team is doing to the companies big picture. The little picture is really the team as a whole. We all like to know that we are working on something bigger than ourselves. Make sure to paint those pictures!
There is no silver bullet for motivating your employees. Don’t look for it. Spend time working on your team environment and maybe that will help you to increase the internal motivation of your employees.
Over the years, I have learned some important things to do and not to do. Managing people has been a learning experience. When I was a new manager, almost every situation I encountered was new. I stumbled through them sometimes, but I can safely say, I learned something from each situation. Some of my managers were good sources of my experiences. Some of them offered the “don’t do this” variety, but those are key lessons to take with me. So, what are the major things I have learned in all these years of managing people? What have I shared with other managers? I have written on almost all of them (see hyperlinks). Here are the things that I have in my toolbox of managing people:
- Your job is to remove roadblocks for your staff. This is one key that many managers forget. What do you really offer your staff that they can not get on their own? Roadblock remover! Sometimes the manager gets in the way. If that is true, get moving.
- Set expectations. Giving your staff the opportunity to help set expectations is very powerful. Giving them the end point, gives them vision into what needs to be done. Don’t tell them how to do it. See the first one…
- Empower them. I know this one is a lot of lip service. Truly empower them is giving them the authority, confidence and the space to get the job done. Sounds easy… Make it happen, you will be rewarded more from your staff with this one.
- Never give someone a task, you wouldn’t do. Let’s face it sometimes there are crappy tasks that need to be done.. Don’t be afraid to say that, “I know this is a crappy task. I am sorry, but I really need you to get it done.” Helps..
- Problems occur, address them ASAP. In a previous post, I wrote about conflict. Well, those problems don’t usually go away. Stand up and acknowledge there is a problem. Respectfully address it.
- Praise in public. Critique in private. If you must critique, make sure that it is about the professional part of the job. Stay away from the personal. Everything must tie to what is happening back on the job. Your behavior in this situation caused this to be missed, that to slipped or whatever happened in their job. Setting the stage is critical.
- Let them speak (or vent). Give them the opportunity to let of some steam if necessary. Listen, you could hear something that is going on, that you were unaware of. Too many times, I have heard a managers voice and not my own. Those don’t work well.
- Respect their time. I had a manager that was late to everything. His time management was terrible. For me, I felt that my time was not important. My time and their time is important!
- Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” I don’t know everything.. The worse thing you could do is make something up. A simple, “I don’t know, but let me find out” works best.
- No surprises. Don’t blindside your staff members. A performance appraisal should not be the first time someone hears there is a problem. You should be communicating all the time. Here is more deeper thoughts in this area.
- Never micromanage. Again, another past post of mine. For me, micromanaging is the worst behavior any manager can do. Give your people room to work!
- Finding the “right” people to work in your team. Your team is key to your success. Finding the right people to work together is critical. Sometimes the person with the most experience is not the best fit for the job
- Mistakes happen, just not the same mistake over and over. No one is perfect, so when a mistake happens, learn from it and don’t let it happen again. I always use the first one is on me… Have a positive outlook and control
- Blame is useless. I have had managers that are looking for the “who” to blame. I would rather find out what happened and make sure that it doesn’t happen again. See the above one.
- You set the example of your staff to follow. Your staff is a mirror of yourself. You don’t like what you see, then you change.
- You are nothing without them. It is a funny thing, when you go on vacation or are out sick, the work gets done… If you staff is all out on vacation or sick – nothing gets done.
There probably are more to add.. Everyday as a manager is a learning experience. Take this list, use what you want and add some of your own. Either way, your staff will appreciate it.
, New To Management
, Leading Teams
, performance appraisal
, performance management
I read a survey the other day that just hit home with me! It was CareerBuilder’s survey that says 26% of managers feel untrained in their new position. Am I surprised? Maybe a little. Why? I wonder if the sample size really reflects the true percentage. I would think it maybe higher… I have to think back to my days as a new manager or supervisor (that is how long ago it was for me). We had no formal training program. See if this sounds familiar with anyone. I spent my time working during my shift - getting to know my people, helping to make sure that we were meeting expectations and learning the culture of the organization. I was spending my free time reading how to be a good manager from books and magazines. Today, I bet many new managers are using the Internet to get their additional information to get them up to speed. Look at all of the blogs and material that is out there…
So, what are the areas that new managers are struggling with? From the survey:
- Dealing with issues between co-workers on my team – 25%. I have written about that one already, in fact the titel was New Managers -Learn this one Early! - see more here!
- Motivating team members – 22%. Read more here!
- Performance reviews – 15%. Read more here!
- Finding the resources needed for the team – 15%. Read more here!
- Creating career path for my team – 12%. Read more here!
I was lucky enough my last year of working at Intel, to spend it training new managers. I can definitely say that this list is pretty spot on with all of the topics that the new managers brought up during the training. What I was happy about, was that I got to share my experiences to over 200 new managers. I am no longer working at Intel, but I still get an email a week from students with questions. New managers are looking to do well, but just need to have the tools to help them.
Are you a new manager? Are these familiar? I hope that my information is valuable to you!