I need to evaluate myself as a manger. I would like to believe that my approach is the best approach for the dynamic of my team, but after a recent team incident I am not sure. I always try to make sure my team understands that I have an open door policy, and I try to make them comfortable to come and talk to me about anything. I am not quite sure this is the correct approach.
Having a team of Program Directors can be a delicate situation when attempting to improve team performance because they are also managers and believe their method is the best method. In some cases their method is a good method. To accomplish improvement, I would first list the goals I would like to achieve as a manager of this team. I would probably send out a questionaire to each Director to find out their opinion in improving performance with my particular benchmarks in mind. During my weekly one on one meetings, I would them assess the questionaire and comments with each director. Finally, I would compile the input and present at the weekly team meeting that addresses the final determination of goals for improvement adn new benchmarks. I would also let them know when they would be measured. This way, everyone has input, the goals and benchmarks are presented, and everyone knows what is expected of them.
It is important to identify the source of the problem to effectively implement ways to correct it. I will look first to the evidence of poor performance, and if it involves the entire team or just a few team members (or only one). After analyzing the situation I will decide if the issues need to be addressed in a group meeting, or in face-to-face meetings with the team members involved.
I would start with clear communication regarding the issues. I would remind the team of what the goals are, the benefits of achieving those goals, and the consequences of not meeting those goals.
All of the teams input needs to be welcome. Show support for opinions which you may not fully agree with. Tell members that they will not be discouraged for bringing up an unpopular opinion, as long as they're trying to help the team. Try to help other members of the team to embrace such opinions instead of dismissing them as without merit.
I would make sure all members are aware of the goals of the overall team--and have clearly defined expectations. I would also make sure that each member understands the value of the other members--and how each contribute to overall success.
I've learned with my own team that some prefer face-to-face interaction regarding expectations (one-on-one for some). Others prefer a clearly defined list.
I can relate to the hashing out differences approach. When I first began my journey as a leader, I walked on eggshells--in fear of hurting someone's feelings. I now know how critical honesty is for the growth of both individuals and the team.
When providing feedback, I focus on positive results--but also make sure to provide constructive assistance of needed. I love watching the team grow into stronger members--and better managers of their own people.
I believe that improving team performance is going to depend on the issues of your team, you should always remind them of the team goals and create challenges to keep them focused on the tasks on hand,and feedback is important to use the ideas of the members.
You make a good point. Providing timely and balanced feedback is a great way to keep a team moving forward. What corrective measures might you try if reminding team members about the goals and providing feedback did not work to keep the team focused?
People need to know that they are being held accountable. It is many peoples' nature to look for a way out (to do what they want to do, as opposed to what they are needed to do) out of responsibility, so reminding people of accountability is a good way to show them that you actually care about who they are and their development. It needs to be handled in a way that coaches, not dictates. People follow culture and through active demonstration more than they do through rules and regulations. As my former supervisor used to say, show me how much you care before you tell me how much you know.
You are absolutely correct! In addition to accountability, I would add "consistency" as also crucial to improving team performance. Holding only some people accountable and not others, or not holding people accountable on a consistent basis, will result in performance suffering.
I also agree with your former supervisor. I'll take an employee with passion about what he or she does any day over somebody with just knowledge and no commitment.
Thank you Jamie. However, on the note of a contrarian, I once overheard a campus president tell an employee that he appreciated her passion, but this was the wrong message to send the employee since her passion was actually seen by most others as unbridled emotion without a rational basis. I try to stay calm, particularly when a heated situation arises, so that I can hear others out. Sometimes passion is very one-sided and I'd like for people to see my passion (through my work ethic and productivity) rather than hear my passion (through emotions that are unchecked).
Just a thought in this difficult economy where many cuts are being made to the workforce as well as to important resources. So many people complain but the truth is that I feel blessed to have a job and I need to remind myself of this whenever I start to feel sorry for myself about how things "could be better" :)
My definition of "passion" for a job is a bit different that yours. I agree that unbridled emotion without a rational basis is not appropriate on the job, nor are unchecked emotions. To me, passion for the job means that the employee puts the needs of the customers ahead of their own. Sometimes this takes the form of going the extra mile, putting in extra time, or giving superior customer service. On occasion, an employee may not like the boss, or a co-worker, or some company policies, but if he or she has passion for what he or she does, the employee will continue to give 100% for the good of the customer and their intrinsic satisfaction.
Thanks for the perspective.
I would definitely agree with weekly meetings to just let everyone int he team come together and discuss the prior and future week. Maybe to better or enhance the learning of our students
When a team is constructed, noticing the different personalities of team members has to be recognized before actions can be taken. One team member may react differently to an approach which provided great results with a previous member.
You make a good point. Constructively framing differences of opinion so that the team hears the positive and negative experiences of an approach are the role of a good team leader. Then, like a jury, a team should weigh the pros and cons of an idea in light of the application and then make a decision.
Thanks for your comment.
Open communicationand improve the atmosphere we delegate effectively it frees up our time to focus on the big picture aspects of the job and be more effective. Plann and hold them accountable. The key is to stay on top of individual performance issues and address them immediately. Everyone wins when we have a fun atmosphere at work. As a team leaders we need to be a supporters of that fun. We'll see improved productivity, reduced turnover and better morale. Usually that means less work for all in the end. Also we need successors to support ideas.
You make excellent points. One of your most impactful insights is to address performance issues immediately. This is so true! Other team members get deflated when they see poor performers not being held accountable. Succession planning is also important. What types of strategies have you seen work in regards to preparing for the succession of a team member?
I agree, meeting with your team and bringing up the areas that are contributing to unproductivity and progress towards the completion of a project helps the team regroup. A common goal can be reestablished and productive problem solving brings the team back together working towards their goal.
You make a good point. I have seen some organizations meet with the group collectively to address issues that are leading to lack of productivity. Others meet privately with the team members that are not contributing effectively. Both are valid methods. What have you seen work?