Updated: Apr 24, 2020
In part one of this article, we discussed the first time-tested strategy to help you as a Manager, or anyone in a leadership role, to mitigate the stress of your team and to care for your most valuable asset in your organization, your people.
In part two, let’s talk about the second strategy, creating a supportive team culture, where team members take ownership and deliver results with flexibility.
Create a Culture of Support with Accountability and Flexibility
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Peter Drucker
Under both complex and regular situations, leaders at all levels must know the value of contributing to a culture that sets up team members to succeed, and where teams are ready to pivot as needed.
As a leader, you will enhance team engagement, productivity, your company’s brand, leverage your unique value proposition and personal brand, gain brand ambassadors, and loyalty by genuinely caring for team members.
Create a safe, supportive structure and team environment that’s both people and results centric.
Here are some suggestions.
Once your team is clear on the deliverables, you validate that team members understand the expected results, timeline, and ensure they have adequate resources to complete the assignment or they know how and where to get them, check-in periodically.
To avoid unpleasant and high-stakes surprises, set the expectations with team members and stakeholders for two-way open communication and regular check-ins (daily, weekly, bi-weekly), with a cadence that makes sense given the crisis, type of project, or assignment. This practice will avoid learning about delays when there’s no time to pivot.
However, beware of the “micro-managing” monster. Think of these check-ins as guideposts and make them milestone-driven. They should not interfere with your team’s productivity, but rather serve as data points along the journey to surface potential roadblocks and address them.
When facing personnel challenges or new business circumstances, re-assess the implications and how the work will get done, and pivot decisively and with transparency.
That’s where the flexibility comes in handy.
If anyone in the team is running into roadblocks, first, show empathy. How? Be ready to brainstorm and coach them around what they need to move forward confidently. Wearing a Coach’s hat, get curious, don’t be judgmental, don’t make assumptions, don’t take things personally, be honest, and ask open-ended questions.
Open-ended questions typically start with “What” or “How,” e.g., What is the problem? How could I support you? What’s another way to approach this situation? As their coach, your time investment will be well-rewarded as they become more self-sufficient.
One of the initial instincts for many Managers is to want to solve the problem for them—it could seem like the fastest way out. However, if the team members are safe and able, taking a more constructive and people-centric approach of coaching team members involves them in generating the solutions, helping them grow, and teaching them how to fish.