Do you have a shy or withdrawn team member? Watch this quick video to find some ideas of how to draw them out. Find a hidden gem today!
At the end of May, I had the opportunity to speak at the NACAAP Annual Conference in Denver. In one of my sessions, I spoke on how leaders can add value to customers, coworkers, and their communities. Part of what I shared was based upon John Maxwell’s writing. Here’s a snippet of what I shared…
Remember, our work is not about quotas or reports. Our work is about PEOPLE.
We tend to focus our work on data, reports, spreadsheets, etc. When we do this, we miss the most important part of our day – the people around us.
So we need to intentionally value others. How do we do that?
For me, one of the most effective ways to value others is to intentionally verbalize my appreciation of them and speak potential into them.
I have observed leaders are sometimes hesitant to verbally value their team members. In fact, years ago I had a boss tell me, “I won’t tell you that you did a good job. Want to know why? Because if I do that, you won’t try any more.” This person knew nothing about me or people. Regardless of your position, we all like to hear “job well done” from time to time. It does motivate people.
I have been pushing myself to make the time to look a team member in the eyes and tell them “thank you” for their efforts. I’m working harder at verbally giving them kudos. I’ve also been intentionally speaking potential into others (i.e. sharing my vision of where I see them growing and ways I will help them get to their goals).
Last week, I gave a leadership book to an emerging leader and challenged them to read it. I’ve offered that after each section, I would take him to lunch to discuss what he’s been learning. Intentional. Purposeful. Direct.
I’ve had leaders in my life who have done this. An independent grocery store chain owner did this for me almost 30 years ago. “As I watch you work, I’m convinced there’s nothing you can’t do if you set you mind to it.” Those words were (and still are) gold to me.
The founder of an international music organization taught me that anything is possible. Don’t accept “no” as the final answer – there is always a way to make something happen. These words helped me maneuver through tough situations in Indonesia and in Communist-controlled Estonia (25+ years ago). I apply this mindset in my life today.
I speak potential into my own son during baseball season. I’ve seen my own words become reality to him. I hope he holds on to these words.
There is no down-side in speaking value and potential into another human being. But we miss out on changing someone’s life when we withhold empowering, encouraging words.
Today, speak value to someone else. Speak their potential. It will change them. It will change your team, your company, your community.
Leaders truly value others – and it is intentional.
I do a lot of coaching and work with coaches on their coaching. Over the years, I’ve heard from coaches where they have team players that “do get it”. Through many coaching sessions, the team player continues to remain where they are, not improving. At times, this static-ness becomes a detriment to the team.
In a conversation with one of these coaches who had one of these team players, I asked, “Who does most of the talking during your coaching sessions?”
“I do,” the coach quickly responded.
“And you continue to see the same results from this team member?” I ask.
“Yes, and I’m frustrated!”
“Then talk less,” I say, “it’s time you ask them for a commitment to change.”
This launched us into a good conversation about the coach’s focus – it had been all about what the coach wanted to happen. The team member only had to sit and listen. The team member “had to have skin in the game.” They just had to endure a coaching session, and then it was back to the same behaviors.
There was no commitment coming from the team member. None.
So the coach and agreed upon these next steps:
- At the next coaching session, the coach would approach the same topic but this time ask the team member for their commitment to the process.
- The coach would ask something such as: “What things do you need to do more of or less of to bring about the change needed in your performance and to improve your relationships with your coworkers?”
- The coach then needed to be quiet and expect answers from the team member. Ask more follow up questions and listen.
- The coaching session would be documented and followed-up on.
- The coach would take time in between coaching sessions to be around the team even more to observe and listen.
- Feedback would be provided at future coaching sessions.
- The team member’s commitment would be reviewed and evaluated in future sessions.
This plan was implemented. It worked. The coach remained consistent. The team member complied and improved. But she eventually left the company. Why?
Expectations were backed up with accountability – the team member didn’t want this kind of accountability over the long-haul. She knew (in my opinion) that she would not keep up her end of the commitment. So she left. And that was ok.
The coach’s team is now performing well together. Their results have improved. Their reputation has improved among their peers.
Leader, do not be afraid to ask for a commitment from your team. Back up your expectations with accountability. Be consistent in your coaching, documentation, and follow-up. Your team can and will improve!
Will your team get better just because they show up for work? Doubtful.
Coaching is the only, sustainable way to improve your team. Of course, your team needs training and communication, but coaching is the only way YOU, the coach/manager/leader, will be able to enable them to become better.
As a leader, you cannot rely on other leaders to improve their teams to compensate for weaknesses on your team. Each team leader must dedicate themselves to team improvement. Then, as a whole, your company becomes better.
Improve your coaching and you help your team members become better. Then your team becomes better. Your company (and your customers and communities) become better.
That’s a winning combination.
Every day, decisions are made at organizations everywhere. In some companies, a select few are chosen to make the decisions. In other organizations, more of a team approach is taken. And there are plenty of examples of everything in between.
Your team members need to understand how decisions are made in your particular company, and they should understand what role they could play in the decision-making process.
I call the the Voice vs. Vote understanding.
If you serve in a company that allows team contribution during a decision-making venture (i.e. bringing on a new vendor, new software solution, etc.), be sure you are doing the following with/for your team members:
- Be on their side. Actually, breakdown the “sides” and help them know their input is important to share. And have them share it in the appropriate channels. Ask for and expect open communication and the flow of ideas.
- Encourage them. I’ve seen team members complain about a process but they offer no input into that process. Encourage them to get involved!
- Give power to their voice. Get them on a project where their experience and expertise are needed. Expect collaboration. Tell them that their voice needs to be heard. Help connect them to the right people during a decision-making process so their voice is heard.
- Help them succeed. Don’t assume your team member knows how to voice their opinion into a decision-making process. Show them the way. Help them succeed – even if their idea is not acted upon.
- Help them understand. The decision-making process, recommendations, and letting go are critical for your team to understand. Do not assume they already know how the “powers-that-be” operate.
Hopefully at your organization, everyone has a voice. But as I explain to my team, not everyone gets a vote in the end. But the voices during the decision-making process are vital for great decisions to be made.
Do you see your team? Do you see them as people, individuals? Do you make personal connections with them?
Or do you see them merely as a position or someone to get something done for you? When we do this, our staff, as human beings, can feel invisible or not valued.
If we take the time to get to know our teams as individuals who have hopes, dreams, needs, and aspirations, I believe our teams will become better teams. As we work to connect with them on a personal level, our professional connections deepen as well. They will see that you are working to add value to them not only as an employee but as a human being. And when that happens, they will be more dedicated and more willing to buy into our vision.
Years ago I had the honour to be on the USS Nimitz – a nuclear aircraft carrier in San Diego. I had the privilege of meeting Captain Mark Manzier and hear how he interacted with the 5,000 to 6,000 men and women who served with him on that ship.
Every day he would connect with the crew in different ways and in different places. One day he met a young man and asked who he was and where he lived back home. The young man told him and then explained to the captain that his wife had just had their first baby. The captain asked if the baby was a boy or girl and learned the name.
Later the captain was in a meeting with his commanding officers. And he asked the commanding officer who was over this young man, “What recently happened in the life of this young man can you tell me about it?” I was told by another officer that in these circumstances, the superior officer had better have a good answer for the captain.
The captain built-in accountability into his lead staff. He found value in his leadership team knowing about the personal things that we’re going on in their crew’s lives. The captain also found value in making that personal connection himself. As the captain explained it, “There will be times when we go into battle and I will call on these men and women to do things that they naturally would not want to do. At that point of decision, they need to know I have their best interest in mind and that they trust me.”
Today, make a personal connection with your team. I’m not asking you to become their best friend. But I’m asking you to personally invest in them. Do you know what their family life is like? Do you know about their kids? Their hobbies? Their interests?
Be intentional about “seeing” your staff.