Doesn’t it make you sick when you hear your management say “our people are our most important asset” one minute, only to lay off hundreds of people the next? It is a cliche to say that the people make a difference in an organisation but the truth is without people nothing works. Nothing gets made. Nothing gets sold. Innovation can’t happen. So it is not too far a stretch to say that your people are the heartbeat of every company, from a large multinational corporation to a one person web start-up. Without the people turning the handles then corporate machines would stop. And along with people come teams and with that, team performance.
So it seems strange that not more attention is placed by companies on their employees, and specifically on their engagement, mental welfare and interpersonal skills and on team performance.
To accelerate business you, as a manager, would do well to turbo boost your people; find some way to switch them on and plug them in. Here are some ideas:
1. Build great rapport with each team member. Get to a point where you can start to truly lead them because you have been excellent at connecting. Building rapport isn’t about just mirroring them, listening and empathising, although all those are critical, it is about making them feel like they want to work with you and do the best for the company and the rest of the team. A successful rapport builder will be able to lead a team more effectively than one who hasn’t got them ‘on side’.
2. Become an expert on how you team works. Not just the output they produce or whether they prefer to start late or take multiple coffee breaks, but how they think and how their world is mapped. The Polish-American philosopher, Alfred Korzybski, famously coined the phrase “the map is not the territory” meaning that every one of us has our own map of the world that is different, and is not the same as the actual territory it covers. Do you know what map each one of your team has, by which they navigate every day at work? If not then perhaps you could do more to find out.
3. Focus on goals with well formed outcomes. Too many companies push impossible goals down onto middle managers who then dish them out to their teams without much thought about how they will be implemented. Be a better manager than that and instead of stopping at SMART objectives, opt instead for PACER objectives. That is to say ones where the outcomes are stated in the Positive, the Achievement is defined, the Context is agreed, the Ecology is taken into consideration and the Resources are identified. And above all make sure the goal is in the control of the person who has to achieve it. There is no point giving someone a goal that they do not have control over.
4. Enable your team to want to achieve the best. A goal or a task can either be something they feel they need to do (which implies they don’t want to do it but are being forced to) or they want to do. As a manager it is your job to get them to want to do it by helping them both see the bigger picture and also anchoring the outcome to one of their core drivers. This powerful technique can make a huge difference to the performance of both individuals and teams.
5. Be the best communicator and remember the statement that “the meaning of your communication is the response it gets” is very true. What that means is that whatever you think you communicated is irrelevant if the person you communicated it to understood something completely different. Remember that everyone applies filters to all inputs based on the map of the world they have in their head. So if they understood something different to what you intended, then it is your responsibility to communicate it in a way that they will understand, hence looping back to item number two on this list.