You are a manager. Your job is to implement the company strategy and directives. You’re given a group. It might be a team, departments, or divisions. How you do your job determines how well you achieve the goals given to you. Let’s talk about your role and how you can be more successful. I’ll share some secrets to empower and unleash your teams.
If you’ve been lucky in your career, you got to work for an awesome manager. That person made your daily work more enjoyable. You liked working for him/her. Why? What are the attributes that you like? What makes this person so special?
When I ask those questions of people, I get different answers. Everyone values different aspects of this person called “manager.” Some people like more of a buddy, someone they can hang out with and share ideas. Others want an absentee manager, someone who never gets in their way and is rarely ever see.
But from a business point of view, what makes an effective manager? It’s not being a buddy or absent. An effective manager is a person who is able to achieve the group’s goals. Companies need to get stuff done. As a manager, it’s your job to do just that.
Managers get that. Far too many managers, though, think their job is to manage people by directing their activities, driving them to achieve, and getting them to produce more as quickly as possible. That’s wrong. Let’s talk about why. Then I’ll give you a new way forward, one that will create happy teams who do achieve more.
You Get Stuff Done Through People
You manage people. Yes. But your people are the means that you get stuff done.
Focusing on only the output and results are the wrong strategies.
They are the measure of whether you are doing your job properly or not. Period.
Unhappy teams do not produce to their potential. They experience higher turnover rates, low quality, and less innovation. Many times, they are reactive instead of proactive. I’ve seen teams who do the bare minimum as they count down the hours before they can get out of there. They don’t enjoy their jobs.
Secret: Unhappy teams do not produce to their potential.
If someone doesn’t enjoy what s/he is doing, how good of job will they do? Sally may perform the requirements needed for her job. Her performance reviews may be great. You might be happy with her output. But Sally’s not happy or fulfilled. She’s not achieving her full potential.
Focusing on only the output and results are the wrong strategies. You are missing huge opportunities for your team and company. To help you see it, do this visualize exercise with me.
I want you to visualize Sally. Imagine that she loves her work. She’s excited to there. She participates, volunteers, and offers ideas to help the project, product, team, and company. She pitches in to help her teammates. She comes to you with ways to improve processes and make things better. The quality of her work jumps. She happily excels.
Right now, she’s performing at an acceptable level. Imagine if you removed all the roadblocks, positioned her to do what she loves, and then empowered her. How much more do you think she would achieve? How much more do you think your group would achieve?
Happy, focused, and inspired teams do more. They innovate more.
Happy, focused, and inspired teams do more. They innovate more. They think about how to do things better. They feel connected to the team and company. They want to contribute and help the company succeed. They are engaged. Plus, they need less hand-holding, which lets you focus too.
You Are Not a People Manager
Let’s reframe what your role is. Forget what you learned in business school. You are not a people manager. Your job is to help your team excel in order to achieve the group’s goals. That’s it.
Your job is to help your team excel. You are there to serve your team.
Great managers get that. They know that their success comes from the people under their charge. They know that it’s their job to empower these people and help them to be successful. It’s not the other way around.
Your people do not need you to dictate how they do stuff. They don’t need you to stand over them and pressure them with your presence. They don’t need to be micromanaged. If they do, it’s because of your management style. You created a culture and environment that is dependent upon you to crack the whip and think for them.
Listen to me. You can be more successful when you realize that you are there to serve them. Did I just hit a nerve? I bet I did. I know that sounds weird and probably makes you cringe. But stay with me as I explain a better approach.
A Better Approach
Your goal is to create a happy, empowered, and innovative team. Pin that to your wall. Frame it. The words “happy”, “empowered”, and “innovative” are critical components to high-performance teams. And be honest. You want this, as it will accelerate your career. Won’t that make you happy?
The Discovery Phase
It starts with a discovery phase. I ask each person what will make him/her happy. Ask them: “if I could create the perfect job for you, what would it be?” The answer is their passion. If they give you a fluffy, nondescript answer, then ask what their passion is. Listen to me. Their passion is where their talent lies.
Position each team member for their passion. This is their talent. They will happily excel.
Position for Passion
The next step is to position each person to do their passion. You want each person doing their talents. Think about that. If I’m passionate about writing back-end modules, why would you put me on the DevOps team? A passion means I’m happy when I do this thing. I will work to do it better. I’ll spend my time learning, improving, and growing. Why? Because it makes me happy. I like this thing. It’s my passion.
Think about the tasks that you don’t like doing. Do you do them as eagerly as you do the stuff you like? Do you look for ways to improve those tasks? No, you just do them quickly and move on. It’s just part of the job, but not the part you like.
Now think about the parts of your job that get you excited. Maybe it’s the planning phases or team building. When you’re doing those tasks, you’re focused. All of your energies are directed at doing it well. It’s where you shine.
Do the same for your team. Imagine what they can achieve when each of them is doing what they love and where their talent resides.
Unleash and Empower Them
Now comes the hard part. You have to empower them. You have to unleash them to do what they do best. That involves trust. Trust that they know how to do it. If they need something, get it for them.
Trust. Vision sharing. Unleashing and empowering them to innovate. These are the secrets.
Make sure you are sharing the vision and why. People like to know why they are giving their time and energies. Why should I give more? Why should I think differently? What’s in it for them? They need to feel connected to the intent and purpose of each project, task, and the overall objectives of the group and company.
Stay out of meetings where you are not adding value. If you are not part of the solution and creative process, then don’t be there. Your presence changes the dynamic. Let your team spread their wings.
Encourage brainstorming sessions. Encourage them to discover and try new approaches. Sometimes it will work. Other times it won’t. Those times are learning opportunities and not failures. My teams and I have had a lot of those over the decades. But we learned a lot and found the things that do work. The learning opportunities taught us how to adapt and adjust. Most of the time, the idea was restructured and improved into something even better. Let your team innovate.
Obstacles create friction. It’s your job to identify and remove all obstacles from their path.
Remove anything that impedes your teams. Do it now.
If a process impedes them, change it. Do it now. Ask them for their feedback. Let them be involved in the process of growth and change.
I don’t care if you’ve always done it that way. If it’s an obstacle, remove it now.
Wrap It Up
My intent in this article is to inspire you to think differently about your role. Happy teams do more. Happy teams make you more successful. Follow the above recipe and your group will soar.
I’ll leave you with this thought: your teams are not your work horses. They are people. They have ideas, creativity, and feelings. Empower and unleash them. Let them innovate.
I welcome your comments and feedback. What do you think?