The first thing you must grasp if you manage a team is: your success is dependent on their success. When led correctly, the whole can become greater than the sum of its parts. Conversely, when led incorrectly, your team will be unhappy, ineffective, and unsuccessful.
What can you do to become a better leader?
Table of Contents
1/ Empower them to make their own decisions… with boundaries
People frequently believe that setting work boundaries will limit an employee’s ability to work. In fact, defining a clear scope of work will make it easier for your staff to work and make decisions inside that area with confidence. They understand which situations they have the authority to handle on their own and which will require the advice of their superiors.
Example: Allowing a customer service representative to spend up to 20% of a client’s yearly fees on keeping that customer happy allows the person to handle a problem quickly without approval from the manager (and slowing down the service provided).
2/ Listen to your team members
Many managers believe they are listening to their employees, however their employees often think otherwise. Considering our previous article about listening to your customers, true listening is all about learning what people like about you, but more crucially, what they don’t like about you. Most managers are unwilling and/or unable to subject themselves to that level of scrutiny.
Some managers make an attempt to solicit feedback by holding formal feedback sessions with their entire staff together all at once. This is a well-intentioned but ineffective technique. What employee wants to risk offending their boss in front of others?
Instead, consider anonymous feedback, perhaps with the help of HR. And be sure to make it clear to the team that their feedback will be used for growth purposes only and will not result in retaliation of any kind.
3/ Trust your team
An excellent manager is able to lead an ordinary team to extraordinary results. If you wait for the perfect group of individuals, you will be waiting forever. Recognize each person’s strengths, limitations, and needs. Find better ways for people to support each other. Bring people together to support and encourage each other. Then believe 100% in these partnerships and collaborations.
These approaches are examples of transformational leadership in business. As a result, your staff will continually get better and collaborate more effectively to achieve business goals.
4/ Forgive mistakes… to a point
Certainly, no one likes mistakes, especially if the mistake is not their own. Therefore, naive managers often feel the need to punish their employees for making any kind of mistake. The outcome of this behavior is that employees will be hesitant to make any decisions whatsoever for fear of retribution. It favors inaction over action, which is a sure recipe for long-term failure.
To balance this, you should define the types of mistakes that are acceptable and those that are not. A good rule of thumb is that mistakes are acceptable if they: a) are made in a good faith effort to try something new that, if successful, will help the company, and b) the cost of the mistake is acceptable given the potential benefit.
For example, if a marketing team decides to invest 5% of their budget in a new media form (e.g., text messaging marketing) and it results in no new sales, that would be an acceptable mistake. However, if an employee violates the company’s sexual harassment policy, that would be an unacceptable mistake.
5/ Provide growth paths
Everything in life, including people, changes. Your staff will be driven to leave you if you do not provide them the opportunity to grow. Major corporations frequently create career paths in line with a training and development program.
This tactic may not apply to smaller firms because they don’t have enough roles to provide numerous opportunities for their employees. However, small companies CAN provide chances for growth in a variety of areas such as professional knowledge, benefits, and emotional development.
6/ Praise effort instead of focusing too much on talent
It’s tough to tell which is more important: effort or talent. Talent belongs to people’s nature, and effort belongs to their attitudes toward work. Both factors have a significant impact on job performance. However, when you want to motivate your employees, you should focus on the effort. Recognition for their effort will be far more important than praise for something that was successful but easy. It’s just human nature.
7/ Challenge them… by listening to them
Boredom is easy to develop in tasks that are repetitive and non-innovative. Bored employees will, in turn, be more susceptible to mistakes, miss more work, and create a higher attrition risk.
If you see signs of boredom in your employees, try talking less and observing more. They may have more ideas than you might think. And if they have ideas, that will give you an opportunity to challenge them by asking them to try to implement those ideas.