Good leaders want their team members to achieve their goals, and they will support them in reaching their goals however they can. But knowing how to support team members to achieve goals is a whole other story.
Even the best leaders sometimes struggle with knowing how to best support their team. Sometimes the struggle comes from facing obstacles and not knowing what to do. Other times, they want to appear neutral and not play favorites or hurt team members’ feelings.
Regardless of what aspect of supporting your team’s goals you’re struggling with, there are a few things to keep in mind as a leader.
Everything You do Impacts Your Team
Whether at work or home, every action, every word, and choice you make impacts the people around you. When you’re part of a team, no matter what that team looks like, if you choose not to do your work, or yell at a team member–all of these decisions significantly affect your team.
Every action, good or bad, is either helping or hurting the team.
Nothing you do is neutral. Even actions you think are neutral aren’t. For example, withholding praise. At the moment, you might think you’re being impartial, but you’re not. In sports, if you’re a coach and give neutral feedback about a player, that player isn’t getting what could possibly lead to them excelling in their performance. This can also be said for a team member receiving neutral feedback in the workplace.
Human interaction within a company is essential. Just by choosing to switch your philosophy from neutral feedback to positive or negative feedback, you can change the entire course of your company. By providing feedback to your team members, you’re opening a dialogue, but more than that, you’re starting to build relationships that are built on trust.
Knowing Where You Stand
If your team member knows where they stand with you–if they know how you feel about their performance and ideas–they’re more likely to share their thoughts with you. Additionally, they’re more likely to improve based on your feedback. On the other hand, if you continue with neutral feedback, how will they know what you want?
Just imagine giving neutral feedback to a team member who did a great job, and they interpret your input as unfavorable, so they change everything about their performance until they’re doing a poor job. Or giving neutral feedback to a team member who is doing poorly, and they take the neutrality as they’re doing a great job, so they keep performing poorly.
Neither of these situations is ideal, and the problem stems from a lack of proper communication, which can easily be fixed if you’re willing to be vulnerable and share your genuine thoughts.
Reaching Your Potential
The world runs on teams regardless of where you look–families, churches, athletics, business, etc. So why do so few reach their potential?
Globally, we tend to focus on subject matter knowledge. That will get you so far–that’s what you’re supposed to do–that’s what your expertise is. For example, if you write code, that’s what you’re trained to do, and that’s what you’re paid for. But that completely ignores the human side.
For many business teams, because people are hired for a specific job–like coding–the team assumes that the team will simply bond because each person is there for a particular position. Bonding can happen this way, at least initially, but the second the team faces obstacles–which it inevitably will–then you’re not fully engaging the potential of all the team to overcome those obstacles.
If you’re interested in seeing a perfect example of supporting your team to reach max potential in the technology industry, listen to episodes 16 and 118 of the Athletics of Business Podcast featuring guest Rich Sheridan.
Supporting Your Team in the Face of Adversity
Why is this so prevalent? Well, because the coder was hired to code. He wasn’t hired to solve the problems. That’s where the human element appears. Yes, each team member was hired for a specific role, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have problem-solving skills or good ideas for other elements of the business. Sometimes it falls on the leader of the team to nurture that human side and understand how the team can tackle problems collectively.
How a team behaves together is the difference between reaching the team’s full potential and floundering in the face of adversity. Why wouldn’t a team leverage all the potential each team member has, especially when obstacles occur?
It depends on the situation, but collaboration issues can stem from leadership. If the leader believes they know everything and can lead the team through any storm, why would they reach out to someone on the team for advice? Not all leaders are coachable, and not all leaders understand that they don’t know everything.
Do you want to expand your understanding of how to support team members to achieve goals? Listen to Episode 10 and Episode 114 of The Athletics of Business podcast to find how Maureen Electa Monte builds teams that thrive with support from their leaders.