In the 2nd part of this article Melanie Warner, brings more depth on how to build trust and take a step back .
Trust between team members is essential to achieve team goals. A lack of trust can lead to behaviours that undermine team performance. Your role is to build this trust and establish an open and honest environment where views can be shared. Successfully harnessing this environment will enable your team to be innovative, creative and productive.
- Doing what you said you would do is a good starting point. If you commit to something and you were overly ambitious, make sure you are honest about this and renegotiate deadlines or apologise and share your learning about the situation. Displaying vulnerability allows others to recognise that you are not perfect and can still learn.
- Core skills around listening and asking questions, both used when adopting a coaching style, are vital to build a trusted relationship. When people are listened to, they feel more valued. Listening takes practice. Suspend your own thoughts or judgments and focus on your colleague/employee. Resist “listening to respond” and adopt “listening to understand”.
- Consider your own questioning skills. Adopt open questions to discover more about concerns, issues, needs and ideas. Closed questions limit ability for team members to contribute ideas and may result in closing down conversations.
We often assume that successful leaders spend their time making decisions, directing commands and using authority to impose their ideas on others. The best leaders gain power by giving it away. Sharing leadership and power motivates team members and keeps them engaged. It creates energy and a climate that generates commitment and engagement in their people.
- Do not simply pass the task over and forget it. Ensure individuals understand what that task entails, how it fits into the wider objective or vision alongside defined outcomes and expectations and to build accountability.
- Give time to team members to clarify expectations and their understanding. This saves time in the long run and ensures that they don’t feel overwhelmed or are under resourced.
- Successful leaders know their teams well, allowing effective delegation. Awareness of the different skill sets and capabilities of team members enables selection of the right people when assigning work.
Take a step back
Discipline yourself to make time to reflect and take a step back to consider your approaches. Everyone should do this as it is so easy to become embroiled in the day-to-day activity and inadvertently continue with the same habits that do not always facilitate the most effective outcomes. You do not need huge amounts of time to do this, rather a couple of minutes post meetings or at the end of the day. Some questions to consider:
- What approaches have I used as manager? What was the impact? Is there anything I might do differently next time?
- Seek feedback. As a manager you are building your own awareness and understanding of how you behave, particularly under stress. You can use formal opportunities – your appraisal or performance review – to gather feedback from team members and peers. Look for opportunities to invite feedback throughout the year. The more you encourage feedback this will facilitate a culture where feedback becomes the norm.
- Get your own coach. Your management journey is unlikely to be an easy one, but it can be very fulfilling. Leading people can however be challenging and working with an impartial coach can help you to challenge your thinking, behaviours and approach in different circumstances.
If you want to see the full version of this article then take a look at our book 100+ Top Tips on Managing Your Coaching Needs.