I have been leading people for over 30 years now. I am passionate about it. I love to see my teams succeed. I love to watch them learn and grow and get results. I love being a part of that process.
But I have to be honest. In my exuberance, I sometimes “take over” situations. I see the issue. I understand the fix. I just do it or I tell someone to go do it.
And that’s not helpful.
I am continually learning to stop telling them to do something. Instead, I challenge them to find the answer, the solution, the remedy. Why?
When they are tasked with figuring something out, they will learn more, connect more dots, and be able to act on this new information more clearly in the future. And their resolution may be far better than what I think it should have been.
I love my team. I love to get involved. But I continue to have to remind myself to challenge them to think and act vs me simply telling them what to do.
Train your team. Provide them feedback along the way. Listen to them. And give them opportunities to grow.
As we prepare for 2020, take some time to ask yourself some key questions. When many think of goals, they become overwhelmed by the sheer number of goals they believe they “should” have.
I’ve asked my own leadership team these basic questions. Try them on for size…
What things have you identified that you need to change to make you a better manager of people?
- What plans do you have in place to improve on that?
- How can I help in that process?
What are 2 to 3 things your team – if they really focused on – could make the most positive impact in 2020?
- What will be your role to help them achieve this?
- How will your team learn about these focal points?
Take time to document your answers to these questions. If you lead managers, ask them how you can support them in this process. Then in coaching sessions, regularly review these questions with your team to keep them on track.
Your doesn’t need dozens of goals. They need focus. And your support.
Make 2020 a great year for your team !
I came across these notes I wrote over 2 years ago. I thought I would share them here.
KEYS TO BEING FOCUSED:
- Understand your goals – what is needed to make your company successful?
- Align your activity around those goals.
- Make sure your team understands the corporate goals.
- Filter – if a project, activity, or attitude doesn’t move you, your team, or the company forward, ditch it. You don’t have time to waste.
We’ve all experienced a coaching session and written evaluations. As you think back on your best and worst experiences, what stands out?
Have you left a coaching session and/or evaluation meeting feeling motivated to achieve more and innovate more? Do these meetings challenge you to perform at your best?
Or do you leave wondering why your manager didn’t mention your recent initiative that demonstrated outstanding results? Or you leave wondering where you need to improve because your manager is not giving you any suggestions – “Keep at it…”
If you manage a team, you must find ways to make the INVESTMENT of time in individual team members more meaningful.
Do they deserve your (the manager’s) praise? Then tell them and be specific! Document it. Remind them of their great work. A praised person will progressively perform at their pinnacle.
Do they need guidance? Ask them better questions which will help them discover their path. Don’t always tell. Ask more. Engage the team member in their own discovery.
Do they need counseling for corrective behaviors? Ask for their commitment. Too often, we managers do all the talking in a meeting where we are discussing behaviors that must change. All the team member has to do is endure us talking. Be sure to ask for the commitment from them to change. Document it. Expect change. Observe and monitor behaviors and then follow up.
Are they progressing towards success? Document your sessions so you know! Find a way to document critical focus actions that lead to success. Document observations you’ve made. Be specific. Put it in writing. Your team members will appreciate your details – it shows you actually know what you’re talking about!
Are you following up? A follow up conversation demonstrates that you (the manager) have not forgotten about the team member’s progress. Any follow ups – I call these POWER FOLLOW UPS – are powerful because you have an opportunity to connect an observed behavior with a coaching conversation and it reinforces the direction your team member needs to be moving.
Managers/Leaders make their teams better when they themselves become better.
If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months, and 6 days, you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee. (from The Book of Useless Information)
I believe in coaching. I read about it. I talk about it. I spend intentional time observing my leadership team as they coach. Effective coaching works.
Here is one thing I have learned about coaching: what you don’t say matters.
Many of us can easily fall into the trap of doing most if not all of the talking during a coaching session with one of our team members. We are passionate about what is going on. We want the best performance from our team member. And in our exuberance, we talk too much. We truly believe we are doing the right thing but all we are accomplishing is taking one slow step towards heating up a cup o’ Joe. As a leader, you need to generate a lot more energy towards performance and results than this.
How do you combat this tendency of many coaches? Ask more questions.
In your prep time, create intentional questions you need to ask your team member to get a bottom-line issues. Here are some samples I’ve used in teaching coaching with coaches:
1. What is happening now (what, who, when, and how often)? What is the affect or result of this?
2. How have you already taken any steps towards your goal?
3. How would you describe what you did?
4. Where are you now in relation to your goal?
5. On a scale of one to ten where are you?
6. What has contributed to your success so far?
7. What progress have you made so far?
8. What is working well right now?
9. What is required of you?
10. Why haven’t you reached that goal already?
11. What do you think is stopping you?
12. What do you think was really happening?
13. Do you know other people who have achieved that goal?
14. What did you learn from _____?
Let’s commit to halt the “brewing” of future coffee. Listen more. Think more. Ask more. Talk less.
In case you did not know, I am available to come to your company or organization to speak on a wide variety of topics. For more information, please follow this link: Jim Johnson, Speaker Information
I would love the opportunity to serve your organization in any way I can.
You’ve heard the definition of insanity, right? “Doing the same things over and over again but expecting different results.” Yet (if we are honest), we all are guilty of this from time to time.
Here we are in the middle of 2018. Are you achieving the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? Is your team meeting and exceeding their KPI’s? If not, perhaps it is because while your goals may have changed, your behaviors did not.
Why do we set new goals yet hold on to behaviors that we adopted years ago? Probably because we are comfortable with what we know. Also, many of us do not like to be pushed and a great many of us do not like change.
So if you want better results, what’s a leader to do? Try this:
Shock test. Sit down with your team leaders and ask them “if we had to produce drastically better results (i.e. 100% improvement) in the next 90 days:
- How would we approach our work differently?
- How would we feel about our work?
- What would we hear ourselves saying to each other, our customers, ourselves?
- How would our team’s focus need to change?
I actually ran this experiment last fall. Some of my managers still use the lessons they learned today and are getting more done with more intentional focus.
Read. Most of the ideas I get come from reading that I’ve done or am currently doing. Not that a specific idea comes from an author, but reading opens my mind to new concepts – a new way of thinking. When that happens, I’m in a mental environment where I can see new possibilities and try new things. And by reading, I don’t just mean books. Blogs, magazines, LinkedIn content. Expose yourself to new ideas and you’ll find new ideas to adopt and apply to get better results.
Network. Find local leaders (or online leaders) and connect with them. Pick their brains on ways they are working to become better. I know you will find great insight and inspiration from doing this.
Brainstorm. Get your team leaders together and, as a group, brainstorm on how you can improve. Push each other to think differently. Years ago, I read about the marketing team that was responsible for increasing sales of Raid – the bug spray. The team came together to figure out a way to jump start lagging sales results.
At one point, someone in the meeting asked, “what would we not do with Raid?” The group sat silently for a bit until someone said, “We could make it smell better.” Again, more silence. Then they began to discuss why the insect-killing spray smelled badly. Why couldn’t Raid smell better? So they experimented and created a more fragrant bug spray. And sales increased. All because in a brainstorming session someone asked a different question.
Accountability. Many times our teams are not meeting expectations because we have failed to hold them accountable for their performance. Coaching sessions have lost their edge. Metrics are not talked about. The team begins to live to the lowest common denominator (i.e. no one should rock the boat). Poor performance is glossed over.
It has been said that leaders should inspect what they expect. And that should be done regularly. It should be documented. Wins should be celebrated. Falling short must be addressed. Accountability gets your team living in “real-ville” quickly and consistently.
Accountability says that competence matters. Competence leads to confident team members. All this leads to better customer engagement and improved results.
Same ol’ same ol’ does not work. Be different. Do differently. Become better.