Here’s a look at three interesting stories currently in the news with ramifications for your team’s productivity.
If your team is being asked to do too much and the pressure is coming from above you, it can be tempting to throw up your hands and think there’s nothing that you can do – but that would be abdicating your role as a manager, writes Liane Davey in the Harvard Business Review. Instead, if you’re given unrealistic targets, it’s your responsibility to push back, by explaining the facts that make up your concerns. If that doesn’t work, Davey suggests asking for the resources you would need to be successful (like additional staffing or other support). You should also “engage your team in some creative thinking about how to be successful,” define the options that aren’t acceptable (like working round the clock), and call out team members who are having success while making sure that you don’t shame team members who don’t hit unrealistic targets.
When you’re sure that your way is best, how do you reconcile that with pressure to collaborate and work as a team? Or, as Kat Boogaard asks in this piece from The Muse, “How can we get everyone to see that our way is the best way—without coming off like a condescending, tantrum-throwing know-it-all?” Pulling from Seth Godin, she suggests that what’s important is to agree with your team on the goals you’re going for, the facts in evidence, and way you’ll define success … but that what you don’t need to agree on is the method for getting there. “If these three agreements about the goal, the reality, and the measurement are in place before any work is started,” she writes, “things will ultimately work themselves out. Even if you do all have different routes to the final destination, you at least always know your whole team is driving in the same direction under the same conditions.”
One of the first things you learn when you start managing people is that you can’t deal with people as if they’re all the same. Different employees bring different strengths and weaknesses, and you need to tailor your approach accordingly. In particular, focusing in on employees’ individual strengths – talking with them about what they’re good at and setting their goals based on their strengths – can dramatically increase how engaged people are with their work. A study from Gallup found that among managers who focused on team members’ strengths cut employee disengagement to 1 percent. Not by 1 percent, but to 1 percent. That’s a huge reduction. If you’re reeling from that number (and you should be!), check out Marcel Schwantes’ suggestions in Inc. for practical steps that you can take to apply that finding with your own management of your team.
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