Managing a successful team doesn’t mean just being a boss. The most effective leaders know they must identify the needs of their team, and address those needs, to keep their people productive and happy. You should know what you need from your team to succeed, but how can you figure out what your team needs from you?
Trust me. The time you take to figure it out is worth it.
Get A Little Personal
Some people believe that knowing your employees on a personal level is unimportant or even unethical. We’re not suggesting that you form inappropriate relationships or get entangled in your employees personal lives. But knowing what your team needs from you, means you have to know your team very well. You will better understand where your people are coming from when you know whether they have a family, what their hobbies are, how they choose to spend their free time, and so on.
Corporate team building excursions are one way that managers can get to know employees better, while building stronger team bonds. If you’re a small business owner or leading a small work group, something as simple as a weekly lunch where no one talks shop may help you get to know your people as individuals.
We are lucky in the direct sales industry that we can develop more personal relationships with team members. However, always have your guard up because you just never know when someone will betray you.
Many managers make use of simple surveys to assess the climate their employees work in. Gallup Q12® is one such survey, which uses 12 elements of engagement that best predict performance. Items such as, “I know what is expected of me at work,” may be defined by your team and discussed. You may have team members rate their feelings about the team itself, the work project(s), and work environment overall. Any of these will give you a window into how your team is operating as a group and as individuals.
You must also ask your people to help you define an ideal work situation. No matter how big or small the input, it’s all important. “We need more staples,” and “We need to streamline communications,” both help to paint the picture of the best environment for your team. Put aside budget concerns while assessing these needs. You can always brainstorm ways to achieve these goals without spending lots of money.
Why isn’t your team already operating in the best possible conditions? This is where you can try to find ways to work around budget limitations. Specifically address how you can get from where things are now to that ideal situation. With your team, begin mapping out how you will address their concerns. Of course, you can’t ask for their input, then ignore it because it sounds expensive or difficult. By the same token, it’s in their interest to work out ways to get what they need. Work as a part of the team to create a plan of action.
People are empowered when they know exactly what is required of them. It is imperative for leaders to create clear cut expectations both for individuals, teams, and the scope of work to be completed by both. If confusion about responsibilities contributes to some of your team’s shortcomings, you may find this is the time for redefining or clarifying expectations for specific roles.
When you’ve assessed the needs of your team and figured out a way to get them what they need, act on it. Asking your team for their input goes a long way in building bonds and creating a positive work environment. Delivering what they’ve asked for is the most important part. You’ll show your team that you value and support them, giving them the added confidence and motivation to succeed.