Like many workplace leaders you’ve no doubt been back a couple of weeks after a short holiday over the Christmas/New Years break. Despite what grinches say, the coming of a new year is a time of transition and change for most.
Whether it’s cultural custom, calendar prescribed or even written in someone’s horoscope column, a new year brings new enthusiasm and energy with it — well at least it does after post-holiday depression wears off after a few days. That window for hope and optimism of a new year is about to close as we charge into February.
As a leader of a team you have an opportunity to seize this chance for change. You still have time to draw a new line in the sand to signify 2015 will be different. But before this becomes an ego driven pursuit, let’s consider it from your team’s point of view. What are the changes most teams would love to see from their boss in the coming year?
Tackle the tough stuff
One of the most prevalent gripes I hear from employees about their manager is their reluctance to have a tough conversation with someone who isn’t delivering, either for performance or cultural reasons.
So grant them their wish. Confront the slacker, tackle the bully or even fire the freeloader. You know who this person is, and if you continue to ignore it you set a cultural tone that pervades the rest of the group. Have the conversation and show your team 2015 will be a year of action.
Express your vulnerability
There are 10 words that are arguably the most powerful words a leader can say to their team. But they require courage…that’s why not many choose to use them. So will this year be the year you sit in your team meeting and say them?
‘I don’t know the answer. Can I get your help?’
Few leaders use them. But the great ones do.
You could also try the following variations.
‘I’m stumped. Have you got any ideas?’
‘I’m really worried. Can we sit down and together come up with a plan?’
Be real as a leader and you’ll find real engagement from your staff. Just remember vulnerability should be always used by a leader with a possibility mindset, not cynicism. No one wants to hear their boss say ‘I don’t know the answer…and I never will because this place is *^#!’
Schedule some human time
Often we get too transactional at work. We respond when asked. We deliver when required. I ask, you give. I give, you receive. The loop just continues. It can become very mechanistic and robotic. But what about the times when we enjoy each other’s company? The times when we slow down, be human and place value on each other as human being, not just as positions. Here’s the thing, if you don’t schedule times to do this, busy will take over.
So as leader, schedule times in advance to break bread, have a group coffee, or invest in a social pursuit together. These small rituals can be the glue that binds a team for the inevitable tough times that present themselves.
If you call a meeting, be on time and turn your damn phone off. Crikey!
It is staggering how often a leader will place an imposition on their people’s time, yet send the most awful signals to them by being distracted. Stop it. You know it’s wrong.
But we all do it. I’ve done it. But it still doesn’t excuse it. As leaders we have to try harder to ignore distractions and show people your attention is with them. They’ll appreciate it to no end
So continue on into 2015 with new energy, but ensure your behaviours change along with it. You’ll harness your team’s enthusiasm and in the process, fight off status quo of years gone by.