That Moment When You Want Your Team to be More Creative

That Moment When You Want Your Team to be More Creative

Have you ever had that moment when you’ve been sitting and listening to your team and you think, “I just want something more… something outside the box – something creative!”

This week we have Coach Keiko Akiba to share with us her thoughts.

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 9.57.16 PMWhen you’re sitting in the middle seat and watching how your team is working, you may ask yourself, ‘What can I do to help my team become more creative?’

And – what does it really mean to be ‘creative’?

You may think that creativity is a special talent that only some people have and others don’t have. But the next time you pass a park, you’ll see children making ‘play’ from seemingly nothing. It’s amazing how children create new games by making up their own rules without any equipment in the playground. They are free to explore and enjoy imagination and creativity!

Creativity is a gift that we all have naturally. However, as we grow older and learn what we ‘should and shouldn’t’ (or ‘the rules’), we unconsciously bury the creative mind deep inside of us.

So – what this means is that your workplace is full of hidden creativity!

What if we could unbury it just like peeling off the outer layer of an onion?

And how can you, as a Manager, help?

Start with these 3 “Let Go’s” that you can start doing now to spur your team toward creativity!

  1. Let Go of your judgement

Often, managers tend to have judgements or assumptions toward their team members and may underestimate their capability. However, these judgements may not be reality and it could make the team feel defensive and demotivated. So, try to let go of your judgement and fully trust the team, letting them know that you are here to support them.

  1. Let Go of the reins that you keep holding

Imagine a horse running freely across the field without any control by someone. What does the horse look like? When you keep holding the reins too tight, it often limits the actions and new perspective. People might feel pressure and less freedom by being too controlled. This is not where creativity is developed. Let go of the reins and let them explore and enjoy new possibilities!

  1. Let Go of your stereotyped behavior

It goes without saying that following the tradition and rules is important, and you may feel safe to stay inside where you are. But aren’t you curious to see what’s available and what will happen if your team gets off the existing path and does something different from stereotypical behavior? They will naturally use their creative mind and find something inspiring along the way!

That Moment When You Need Someone To Go The Extra Mile

That Moment When You Need Someone To Go The Extra Mile

We know it all too well. You gave the new project to Joe to run because you needed his expertise to really knock this one out of the park!

You don’t just want Joe to “work” on the project, you want him to invest in the project and do what you’ve seen him do so well.

But, HOW do you actually get Joe to do that on this project?

This week, we’ve got Coach Bill Koch with us to share some of his best insights.

So, without further adieu…

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 10.48.00 PM“I often work with clients on the fast track. They have been ‘rock star’ individual contributors with deep expertise, domain knowledge, and amazing abilities to get things done. That track record for great performance gets rewarded with promotion into positions of management and leadership where one is expected to motivate and inspire a team. And this is right where some of the best and brightest people feel stuck – often for the first time on their fast-paced career trajectory.

In coaching conversations, I often receive questions and quotations such as:

  • ‘I know how to perform, but not how to lead.’
  • ‘I feel more comfortable doing than leading.’
  • ‘Management would be fine if it weren’t for all the people problems.’
  • ‘This is hard…I’m not sure I want this.’

Beyond such anecdotal indicators, I have analyzed data from a large body of client 360° evaluations with feedback data collected from Bosses, Peers, and Direct Reports. Among 50+ business competencies that are measured through this 360 instrument, these are among the most frequently rated as Opportunities for Development:

  • Getting Work Done Through Others
  • Motivating Others
  • Managerial Courage
  • Developing Direct Reports
  • Directing Others
  • Building Effective Teams

See the theme here? It’s about leading others. How to manage Direct Reports is one of the toughest challenges because it’s often new to us. Think of leadership skills as an underdeveloped muscle. We need training and exercise – maybe a personal trainer too.

Even more challenging – how do we get a Direct Report to “step it up” and go the extra mile? Should we use a carrot or a stick? Do we demand and command, or can we inspire and attract people to provide peak performance? The answer is “yes” – depending on the situation. It’s art and science. And new leaders need to practice becoming nimble and able to use multiple methods depending on the business need.

What does great leadership look like in your organization? When were you inspired to do your best work? Think of those experiences as you consider what you ask of your team. How can you inspire and motivate your Direct Reports to do the extraordinary?

There are times when leaders must make critical decisions in the face of looming deadlines, limited resources, and organizational demands. These events call for swift action. Think “military threat” kind of situations. The leader takes charge. But this behavior must be reserved for critical situations. “Command and Control” is not for daily use.

Great leadership is about developing people, building a team, and fostering a caring connection that transcends the workplace and the work at hand. It means making a personal investment in others. And it pays dividends in the form of commitment to the company from people who feel a part of the organization. It’s because the leader makes them feel welcome, valued, and appreciated.

What can you do to ‘step it up’ if you expect more from your Direct Reports?

  • Frequent 1:1 developmental conversations
  • Taking a personal interest in your Direct Reports
  • Making sure the work you assign is meaningful
  • Setting clear goals and objectives with your Direct Reports
  • Welcoming feedback on your leadership performance
  • Fostering a supportive team environment that’s friendly – maybe even fun!
  • Recognizing great contributions in front of other members of the team
  • Rewarding good work at the time it is performed

Leaders who invest more effort in these areas will find that their team is in step and capable of doing great work. Your Direct Reports want some autonomy to do things in their own style. The leader is responsible for setting the expectations and objectives so that individuals can flourish in a way that contributes to objectives you establish for the team.

Ask yourself if you’re creating an environment that makes people want to go the extra mile to perform at their best for your organization.

That Moment When You Still Need Productivity to Increase

That Moment When You Still Need Productivity to Increase

Last week we started with some tips on what to do when you really need productivity to increase for you and your team.

Did you have a chance to try out any of the tips?

This week, we’ve got Caroline back with some more suggestions.

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 2.32.57 PMBuild Relationships – As a manager, you are building the bridges with other groups that will enable your directs to get things done.

Building trusted relationships within your group, and outside of your group.

What are some ways to do this?

  • Spend time with your peers
  • Find out what is important to them
  • Build strong relationships so you can reach out via email, text, etc., and gain a quick response

A lot of times, the slow down in productivity is due to a lack of response from another group.

Well, you are all in an environment where you receive a huge number of emails and texts, and are in meetings everyday…so how can your asks stand out? Is it a situation where you need to actually make a call? If you have a trusted relationship built, you will gain a quicker response because you are known and they trust that the request is actually needed and important.

Manage the energy – …yes, you are responsible for keeping up your energy and the energy of your group.

For creating a positive work environment.

When you are working in a really fast paced, intense environment, it’s hard to perform at your maximum and maintain composure when your energy is low. This is really important for managers when you are often moving from one meeting to another.

So I use my calendar. Keep it simple.

Your calendar is not just about scheduling meetings. That’s the least it can do. I usually recommend on a Sunday evening or Monday morning taking a look at your calendar for the week – 10 minutes of calendar planning.

So where are you really tight? Which meetings do you really need to be at your best? Which ones do you need to be in and for how long? How can you insert a short amount of time to regenerate a bit when you are a key player?

  • What can you delegate?
  • What are the top priorities?
  • What do you have to get done that day?

If you are stressed and performing at a lower level, this will make it difficult for your employees to perform well.

If you are introverted, then ensure you have enough quiet time here and there to regroup.

If you are extroverted, roam around – take the long way to the coffee room and interact along the way.

It takes only a few minutes and can make a huge difference if you purposefully build in “energizers” into your work day.

It’s not rocket science. It is less complex than all the technical issues you have solved so far in your career, and it will result in you accomplishing more in less time.

Lastly – Be inclusive.

When you are stuck on a challenge or need to be in too many places at once – involve your team. Discuss openly the challenges and have them get involved.

This will create greater trust, ownership, and buy-in so your team will work together more effectively – AND productivity will be higher with greater ownership and buy in.

A great leader once said to me … “even if you know the answer, ask for input”.

Input is not just for when you don’t know – it is to seek other views, to create involvement, and to create energy around a project.

A golden rule of mine is always err on the side on inclusion, not exclusion.

Interaction, inclusion, discussion…create those in your group.

They invite creativity and raise the energy of the group.”

That Moment When You Really Need Productivity to Increase and It’s Not

That Moment When You Really Need Productivity to Increase and It’s Not

If you are a Manager then you’ve got ‘em … direct reports!

These guys make you, and sometimes it can feel like they break you too. The success of your team lies within you and each of your direct reports.

So, for the next few weeks we will have some more of our expert Coaches here to share with you some of their best tips and tricks when it comes to managing direct reports.

To kick us off this week (and next!), we’ve got Coach Caroline Paoletti sharing some of her best tips on how to motivate your team when you HAVE to increase productivity.

Let’s jump in!

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 2.32.57 PM

 

“My approach as a leader was always to learn and work with each direct report in a way that was meaningful for them. This shows caring, builds trust, and allows you to learn the details of what helps them be their highest performing self. This will automatically create high productivity. So let’s talk about some practical things you can do, starting now!

Step 1: Define the Goal (what the team needs to accomplish).

Now what?

Think about:

  • What can you do to contribute positively to the goal?
  • What do you need to know to enable your employees to perform to their full potential and achieve their goal?
  • Have you clearly articulated what they need to achieve so that they understand?

The answers to these questions will create your roadmap.

Some of the answers may be different for different managers, and different for each of your direct reports.

That’s a good thing.

Step 2: Know what motivates your directs.

My favorite question for this conversation is “What is a great day at work for you?”. It sets you up to get a descriptive answer with tons of information.

As an example, if they say “analyzing reports and finding the common thread”, they are probably introverted, prefer to work quietly, and enjoy finding a complex solution.

So if you want them to be more productive, it’s probably not good to give them 8 hours of presentations, Knowing what motivates them can increase their energy and ability to be really productive.

Giving them assignments contrary to their motivators will zap their energy and lead to a lower level of productivity.

Knowing your directs and how to (and what!) to delegate to each is essential.

Step 3: Find out what is hard for your directs (and work with them to actively develop that area).

Often people procrastinate around tasks that are uncomfortable.

Ask the question, how can you help them come up with a plan that enables them to move forward quickly?

One of your key roles is removing the roadblocks.

Your group is going to handle the 80 or 90% that fits in the routines of the organizations systems. Your job as a manager is in dealing with the other % that does not fit the normal routines of the organization.

Reducing the roadblocks saves your team tons of time and is one of your key contributions to higher productivity.

So, this week try it out: set a clear goal, begin to ask what motivates your team, and learn one that task that is more challenging for them in their current role.

And come back next week to learn a couple more tips from Caroline!

Communicating for Results

Communicating for Results

Have you ever talked to someone and thought you all walked away clear on what needed to happen … and then it didn’t happen?

We can all probably think of a time like this.

As you are working to hit your yearly goals, we have Coach Steve Schmitt with us sharing some tips on how to communicate more clearly with your team!

Thanks, Steve!

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 1.05.58 PM.png“The key to achieving performance personally and professionally is repetition.

I think the best quote to illustrate what we all know to be true but sometimes don’t full acknowledge is by George Bernard Shaw that says, “the biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has happened.”

Just because we said something does not mean that they heard, understood, or agreed specifically. What’s the solution? I have three tips for you:

1) Communicate your messages many times through different methods. This can be through different mediums, in different venues, or with different words. This is where Leaders really get a chance to make a difference.

When you communicate your messages about your goals and results, be sure to be very specific, succinct, and simple.

2) Make sure to lead with what’s in it for them (why should they care or want to listen?). It’s extremely common to lead our conversations with what we want and the fact is – people take action when they know how they will benefit from it!

A helpful lens to use when we communicate our goals and desired results is that we are actually marketing. The essence of marketing is getting people to take the action we desire, and good marketing communicates the benefits to the buyer. Another way of looking at this is we’re getting buy-in. Let’s motivate our Team to produce the best results they are capable of by getting them to want to.

3) Our biggest and best communication medium is our actions, Your Team is listening to your actions (many times more so than your words), so let’s act in congruence with our marketing messages (oops, I mean business communications). To modify a saying from Ghandi, “be the action you wish to see in the organization”. Your actions are your words, your appearance, your expressions, your mannerisms, your behaviors, and oh yeah, your actions.

Let’s think of it this way, three simple words caused shampoo sales to skyrocket – “wash, rinse, repeat”. Do you think maybe we can cause performance to skyrocket if we “communicate, act and repeat”?”

This week, try out some of Steve’s tips and let us know what worked for you!

Accountability Doesn’t Happen by Coincidence Either

Accountability Doesn’t Happen by Coincidence Either

So, did you get to try out some of the accountability tips from last week?

We’ve got Kristin back this week to share the 4 more tips on our delegation checklist – where you assign tasks to your team members and hold them accountable to quality standards and deadlines!

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 1.52.01 PMTake it away, Kristin!

After you’ve had the chance to communicate the purpose of the project/task,  state the mission and core values the task supports, and explain the results you expect there are a couple additional tips you can try!

  • Identify checkpoints

Assign a date for an interim checkpoint or two and enter it into your calendar.   Depending on the person you are delegating to, the checkpoints you identify could be several one-on-one meetings to discuss progress to-date, a formal progress report, or a simple email from the team member describing progress. You might ask for a checkpoint report that covers three topics:

  • Successes and progress
  • Challenges or roadblocks
  • Help needed, if any

Some managers like to state a “no surprises” policy at this point. “No surprises” means that the team member is expected to communicate issues in meeting a deadline well BEFORE the deadline. I always tell my team members, “Bad news early is good news,” meaning, if I know that you can’t meet a deadline well in advance, we can do something about it. Don’t tell me on or after the deadline about problems – then it’s too late to save it.

  • Set a deadline and consequences for not meeting it

Clearly state the deadline for this task and why it is important. “Susie, we are not putting our best foot forward with the lousy copier we have, and it’s not sending the right message to our employees when we expect them to work with unreliable equipment. It’s vitally important that you have a new copier installed by April 15. I’m counting on you to do that, ok?”

The good news is that this process can expand or contract depending on the trustworthiness of the team member. If you are delegating to someone you already trust, you quickly hit on these steps. However, if you are delegating to a new person or a poor performer, you will want to follow this process to the letter. 

Let us know which tips you tried and like best!

And, if you want to learn more about accountability processes, check out Kristin Robertson’s book, Your Company Culture Ecosystem: Growing a Vibrant Business.