The number one, recurring message that appears again and again in all the articles, research and real world experiences I have been exposed to is this – MANAGE TO THE INDIVIDUAL EFFECTIVELY and….SUCCESS!!
So, “Where do I begin” is the question I am often asked. And the answer? GET TO KNOW YOUR TEAM!
– What motivates them?
– What are their passions and interests?
– What are their skills?
– What is their preferred style at work?
Sounds simple, doesn’t it. Yet many, many managers, leaders and organizations ignore this piece of the puzzle or are simply uncomfortable exploring the more personal drivers in their people. BIG mistake. If you are going to make them feel valued, heard, engaged in the work they are there to do you have to get to know them much better. And it can be done without getting too personal or uncomfortable. Here’s a great place to start and it’s something I do all the time in workshops, pairing people up to a) break the ice and b) teach them that despite how long they may have worked with someone, they may be surprised by what they find out by doing this simple drill. Hint: open-ended questions work best. A couple of my favorites that seem to work well are “What did you think you wanted to be when you grew up?”. “How did you end up here?”. “Where do you think you want to get now, at this stage of life, in your career?”.
And in the everyday real world, what do you do? What could you do? MEET WITH YOUR PEOPLE. Do so formally(20-30 minutes every 1-2 weeks ideally, or at the very least once a month. Put it on your calendars, officially carving out time). This gives the person a feeling of carrying more importance than just the chance “drive by’s” done at the spur of the moment. It’s sacred time, usually with the boss, with a chance to exchange information, discuss ideas or frustrations, and just chat alone. It is their time with you. This has proven invaluable to me in my business career. And I know it’s worked well for others as well that have adopted this as a regular business practice. We will expand on what to do and how to do this in an upcoming newsletter.
MBWA. Management by wandering around is the most underrated thing a manager, leader, owner of an organization can do. GET OUT OF YOUR OFFICE. Stop creating silos by staying at your desk. Or worse yet, by creating the infamous “Death by Meeting” culture so common. For those of you old enough to remember, or for those interested enough to read this that are not, remember the old school model of a small business owner, factory floor supervisor or manager, etc.? The good ones would make the rounds of their facility, at least once or twice a day, like clockwork. And if there were different shifts(there were!), they would somehow make time to get to touch those folks as well. They weren’t forgotten. ALL were valued, known by first name and treated as a valued member of the team. The result??? ENGAGED, LOYAL, PRODUCTIVE employees. HOW you do that well is important, but the mere effort and act of doing so takes care of that to a large degree. DO IT! It works when done regularly and done well.
If you do the things mentioned above, then this last step should logically flow from those acts of getting to know your team. And that step can be very simple, but also very important for all involved. Create a personal, professional development plan with each of your people, Ms. And Mr. Manager! It can be very simple but also extremely engaging for both the employee and you. It should be one to two pages maximum, with some sort of template/form/paper/electronic format which allows the employee to identify their strengths as well as what they would like to learn, get better at. Select no more than three things to work together on in the current year(this is designed to be separate from the annual review process for those that still do those), with check in points along the way for conversation, guidance, feedback, training, coaching to the goals self-selected by the employee and agreed to by you the boss. Hint – if you are holding those one-on-one meetings on a regular basis this fits nicely into some of those!! And for those that need some help in how to create this, just send me an e-mail or pick up the phone and call me. I have some templates that help in this process tremendously.