Pillar of Better Management #2: TEAM MEMBERS
You see them in the parking lot as you arrive. You sit next to them at meetings and presentations. They come to your office with a variety of problems they want you to solve. These are the people you work with every day…the members of your team.
Whether you manage one team or more, your ability to interact with the team members is crucial to your success…and theirs. Our Four Pillars model shows that knowing the people on your team, and building trust among all of you, is one of your major responsibilities. In the first blog of this four-part series, we talked about understanding your self, as the foundational pillar. Now let’s move on to discuss your role in relation to the individuals who can help you succeed.
In the blog about “Self” we emphasized that you need to understand your own personality traits and be true to yourself. And as a manager, look for guidelines that will remind you of how to be a Better Manager.
Look no further than these familiar proverbs for advice!
No Man… or Woman… Is an Island
You can’t go it alone. Artists, writers and people who cross the Atlantic single-handed in a small boat (or try)…those are all people who need to be on their own, and are insular in their approach to work. But if you are aiming to be a Better Manager, you know that you can’t do it by yourself. An effective leader knows that interacting with team members, setting joint goals, pulling through together, is a better way to get the results you want. There may be aspects of your job that you prefer to do yourself, and as we discussed in the blog on “Self” it’s a good idea to understand what you can contribute. But don’t take on too much if there are others who can share the load. Which leads us to our next point:
Many Hands Make Light Work
There is a skill to dividing up the work so that each team member gets to contribute her or his talents towards achieving your shared goal. Often, managers spend a lot of time trying to help staff to overcome weaknesses. Although that’s often very necessary, it may be even more important to provide opportunities for everyone to build on their strengths. Find out what drives your team members — their individual aspirations and abilities. The team will achieve more if the individuals who have outstanding customer service skills are the ones who interact with clients, the people who are clever with numbers develop the budget, and the staff who are creative, original thinkers are encouraged to stay creative. Your role is to identify those individual strengths, divide up the work and manage their joint efforts.
Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You
The Golden Rule! It’s the way you treat your team members that will make the difference. Underpinning this golden rule are three values (at least) that good managers embrace and live by: respect, fairness, equality. Each of your team members deserves your respect, and to be treated fairly. Some unpopular managers only show respect for people who are high up in the organization and earn a big salary. Even more unpopular are managers who are biased in the way they treat people, and are not fair in their evaluations. Favoritism is not the way to get the most out of your team members. Instead, challenge each one to achieve their best, intellectually, emotionally and professionally. Provide fair, one-on-one feedback, and act on the feedback they give back to you. Value them all equally, and you will be valued in return. But…
A Chain is Only as Strong as its Weakest Link
If one of your team members is having difficulties, it may drag down the whole team. Even though you may want to focus on people’s strengths, there are times when you need to address their problems. If you have built a professional, caring relationship, based on trust, then your team members will approach you more willingly when they need your help. The same relationship will be useful if you need to talk to an individual who is not performing well. Your communication skills will be tested if you need to explain to someone that job performance needs to be improved. A team member who does not have Emotional Intelligence, or the skills necessary for the job, or who doesn’t obey The Golden Rule will test your managerial abilities. Check that you have your own emotions under control, and that you’re approaching the individual respectfully.
If you a create a professional, caring relationship based on trust and the specific needs of each individual team member, then you will be well on the path to becoming a Better Manager. It’s the team members that will help you to make this pillar strong, and allow you to look confidently to the impact of the team as a whole. Think synergy… the effect that happens when the potential of the whole team collectively is greater than the work of each individual member. We’ll talk about that in the next blog.
But in the meantime, if you are interested in finding out what Google discovered about its team members, check out the summary of the Google Aristotle Project.
Want to read about the other 3 Pillars?
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April 13, 2017