27 September 2023

How to bring out the best in your team

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Associate Professor *Daisy Lovelace shares the ways to bring a team to achieve goals despite the constant changes of time.

The world of work, as we know it, is constantly changing.

We rely on teams to tackle our most challenging tasks. And our teams today look very different than they might have just a few years ago.

Managers must navigate the macro trends tomorrow while juggling shifting business priorities, reduced resources, and today’s technology becoming obsolete.

Given this continuously changing work environment, how can you manage your team to accomplish your goals?

My Linkedin Learning course, Managing Teams, provides strategies and guidance on managing teams, driving results, and fostering collaboration and innovation.

I’ll explore three tips for managing teams in a continuously changing work environment in this article.

Build a Culture of Adaptability.

A culture of adaptability allows employees to make their own decisions.

Providing autonomy to employees will enable them to tackle new and unexpected tasks with creativity and innovation unhindered by rigorous oversight.

It frees you, the manager, to focus on the bigger picture. Allowing employee autonomy develops employee confidence and makes them feel valued.

Use Clear Communication of Goals and Expectations.

While recommendations for clear communication are typical, you can always emphasise its importance.

Team culture is built over time.

A culture is built on mutual trust, and strong interpersonal relationship among your team-which starts with clear communication. Next, clarify team goals and expectations to set a clear direction for your team.

Once you’ve prioritised objectives, there’s room for flexibility, risk-taking, and sharing new ideas.

Ensure Accountability.

Teams with solid accountability are steady, stable, and much more productive than teams without accountability.

However, the gap between what’s expected and what happens is a space that invites distrust.

You can close this gap by setting expectations about who needs to accomplish what goals and letting your team determine how they’ll complete the work.

If you get into the details of their execution, it may feel like micromanagement. Once they know what you expect and by when let them rise to the occasion and figure out how to get it done on their terms.

Expect Change.

The right question isn’t if the disruptive change is headed to your industry but when it will arrive.

Change is inevitable.

You should anticipate and strategically plan for it. Whether inside your organization or from external forces. As a leader, people look up to you and explicitly pay attention to how you react to change.

You set the tone of how your team will respond to change. Ensure you also hold yourself to the same standard as your employees.

Encourage Professional Development.

Research by Deloitte shows that 71 percent of employees have already experienced changes in their roles due to AI.

The same survey found that 82 percent believe technology will significantly change their job responsibilities over the next three years.

Encouraging professional development increases job performance and allows employees to contribute more effectively to the team. Demonstrating investment in employees’ success and growth contributes to employee retention and engagement.

Upskill your Employees.

Upskilling allows employees to develop new expertise and opportunities to adapt to new technologies.

Upskilling is essential for an employee to advance in their career field and for managers to handle technological or business disruptions effectively.

Upskilled employees can tackle old tasks in new innovative, or efficient ways and provide incredible value. Great managers develop their employees, even if it means they’ll have to transition away from the team at some point.

Develop the Team Collectively.

Discuss developmental goals in one-on-one meetings and collectively.

Brainstorm how different skills can complement one another and identify opportunities for synergy.

Based on their goals, you can work together towards getting them the experiences and skills required to move in that direction.

The team must understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses for full collaboration.

Be a Coach.

The first step in becoming a coach is to understand your team’s strengths and how to stretch their skills.

By getting to know your employees, you can assess the skills and capabilities they’ve already mastered and the opportunities for growth or improvement.

Talk with your coachee about where your perceptions of their skill/strength are similar and where they differ. Then decide on a personal development plan to improve skills in whatever areas you’ve identified.

Pay particular attention to what your coachee says motivates them. Your job is to motivate and inspire their best work.

Build Lasting Relationships.

Studies continue to show that one of the highest predictors of employee engagement and satisfaction is tied to managers.

At the same time, you may feel you don’t have time to cultivate meaningful relationships; as a leader, you cannot afford to build a relationship with your team.

Get to Know Your Teammates.

Block off the time on your calendar to get to know your teammates.

You don’t need to know everything about them, but you should have a general sense of what is important to them.

You can ask open-ended questions to get to know them. A good leader understands their employees’ motivators and needs. Employees need to feel like they’re seen and heard to have a sense of belonging and feel invested.

You need to create space for employees to let you know how they’re doing and how you’re doing as a manager.

Listen Actively.

Listening actively involves being present, patient, and engaged in the conversation.

It also involves asking questions to understand the other person’s perspective better.

The worst thing you can do is signal disinterest. Instead, ensure you’re making good eye contact, nodding, and paraphrasing stuff you hear as they’re shared.

Remembering and following up on the seemingly small personal details lets people know you care, whether it’s about a sports team or a sick pet. If you want to influence someone’s thinking, especially if they disagree with you, it’s essential that they feel heard.

If you demonstrate a genuine interest in getting to know your employees, you’ll lay the foundation for a productive relationship beyond your roles’ transactions.

Gallup research shows that managers are responsible for 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement. Therefore, managers play a significant role in the success of their employees and their team. Wouldn’t you rather be the manager that gets 100% from your team? By building an adaptable team invested in learning new skills and building relationships with each other, you’ll find yourself managing a winning team.

To learn more about these strategies, I encourage you to check out my course Managing Teams, free through June 30th, and to continue investing in a culture of skills-first learning, consider trying a 30-day free trial of LinkedIn Learning for your team.

Written by*Daisy Lovelace, A ssociate Professor of the Practice & Executive Director, Management Communication Center at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University. Instructor at LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com

This article first appeared on the LinkedIn Learning blog.

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