Last years has certainly shaken our lives. Some more than others. As a team leader, what did you do to adapt your management and leaderships style to get through?
Being a good manager/leader is not always easy and it doesn't often come naturally to people. Most managers are promoted because they were good at their job. This doesn't necessarily mean they are good managers.
From Task Manager to People Manager
If you, like many have been promoted to a team leader because you did a great job, you need to understand what it means to lead a team of people. Knowing what the finished result looks like and how to get there is great but now you need to motivate different personalities to achieve the same whilst ensure they get on with each other on at least professional level. Everyone will receive information in a different way. To give you an idea to the following exercise: Ask everyone to get a piece of paper and pen and follow your instructions. They're not allowed to ask any questions .
First draw a large oval
Draw smaller circle touching the oval
Draw smaller oval inside the big oval
Draw two small ovals touching the circle
Draw two small circles or dots inside to circle
Draw a U shape inside the circle
Draw two small ovals inside the big oval
Finally draw two small ovals coming out of the big oval.
Now ask everyone to show you their creations! If you're doing this virtually I can guarantee you that those images will not be identical despite your giving everyone the same direction. And even if you're in one room with everyone - they will not be the same. Why? Because everyone receives information in a different way. And different people will ask different questions once you allow them to. Some people will be waiting for someone else to ask. Some will jump straight in. There will be those who will see no point in this silly drawing and you will have some who will enjoy a bit of creative time!
As a team leader it is up to you to know who is who when it comes to real tasks.
If you don't know who is who in your team and you're trying to achieve great results it will be like putting together random pieces of puzzle. The shape might fit but the colours and image won't match. You might spend time trying to force pieces together and waste a lot of time only to find that the image at the end doesn't really look like anything. All the time wasted and no energy left you will either start blaming yourself or everyone else.
However, as a leader of a team it is your responsibility to know your people so you can manage them properly. This doesn't mean micromanaging but once you learn about different working patterns e.g. who's detail oriented and might take longer to complete a task but will to thorough research to ensure the information is correct. Who will oversee if the rest of the team is OK. Those who are more assertive and pushing through or those who talk to inspire. You can find out more about different personality types you might have in your team here
Team Leader with a purpose
How often do you prepare for 1-2-1 meetings? How much time do you allow for such meetings? What is our routine?
In the current climate it would be surprising if people really are OK when they answer your question: "How are you?" As a Team Leader you need to make sure your team members are OK and don't accept their first answer if you feel that something is going on. Maybe they turned up late for the meeting or their camera is off. Maybe they didn't complete a task.
What is important is not just what they say but how you prepare for such conversation. It's extremally important for you to be in the right mindset. Relaxed body language, comfortable environment and calm tone of voice. Otherwise what can happen you can unconsciously evoke a defensive response in your employee just by the energy that comes from you. So, before any one to one, give yourself few minutes :
Think about the ideal outcome of the conversation
Your body language
Have you got enough time to get into details of an issue
Is this the right time for such conversation if you have an important meeting afterwards?
Understand that you don't have to fix their problem, often just being heard is enough
If things are not OK ensure a follow up meeting in a week or two
Admit your own vulnerability/struggles in the past to help them trust you
Keep it confidential
Being a leader comes with responsibilities. No one can switch of from personal issues. It also doesn't mean you have to get fully involved in everyone's personal lives but having and idea can help you to predict the running of the company and potential issues that may arise. We're still in the pretty uncertain times where things can change very quickly. Members of family might get the virus, or they're told they have to self isolate. Children might have to do more learning from home. Being able to predict any potential issues will make it easier for you and your staff will know that now you know you can make arrangements to ensure smooth running of the business.
Open Communication is the key
Yet, so many people are afraid to have an open and honest conversation with their employee.
Yes, there is a difference between oversharing and sharing just enough to show others that you're also a human being and things do go wrong in your life too. Maybe sharing how you overcome those difficulties can help your team member to realise that they're not alone in their 'suffering' and that you've got their back because you will understand.
But what often happens is that people are too afraid to openly admit their struggles until it's too late and the issues becomes difficult to solve, losing you both the time and money but also energy to fix much bigger problem.
Now, more than ever checking in with your staff is important. That is if you care about the company your work for but also care about people in your team you real on for great results!
If you need help to improve your people skills or communication, get in touch to find out how can I help you to be the best leader you can be.