I was talking with a client about how to get more from their team, specifically more action and effort toward driving sales and meeting goals. Here’s what I recommended. These 5 steps are designed to lighten my client’s monitoring and shift responsibility to their team members.
- First, do team members have an understanding of why the goal is important? Have you provided broader context and meaning? For example, if we don’t meet our numbers, we can’t do the work that we love to do and have fun doing. And, are the expectations clear?
- Do you have an accurate read on whether team members have the necessary skills? If not, where and how are they going to acquire them? And what will be the follow-through to ensure that they get practice? (See items 3-5.)
- Create an action plan that is designed by them and on which you sign off. If they need help creating a plan, give them a menu of activities to choose from, ask them to pick 2-4 with guidelines around frequency.
- Review the plan twice each month for 15 minutes. They should come prepared to discuss what’s going well, where they’re getting stuck, and on what they need your input. The more specific the better. This provides real-time, rapid feedback on what’s working and how to leverage it.
- Convene the entire team twice a month for no more than an hour. In this group setting, team members share their information from #4 above with the entire team. This will create lateral leadership and motivation, best practices derived from what’s working among team members, and ideas for overcoming challenges. Let the team members do the bulk of the work, with you providing your guidance last. And have collegial learning and good-natured competitiveness be the drivers for the meetings.
Eliciting more discretionary effort from team members often requires that leaders do less. It just has to be the right kind of less.
Sarah Levitt is a trusted guide to the c-suite who works with CEOs, senior executives slated for promotion at leading organizations, and senior leadership teams. She is the author of the book Magnificent Leadership, creator of The Making Magnificence Project®, and consults and speaks to a broad range of clients, including Harvard Kennedy School of Government, BASF Corporation, Ultimate Software, and American Bankers Association. She is also a coach in the elite Executive MBA program at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.
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