Want to Be a Better Leader? Care for Your Team
In the midst of running an organization, we can all get caught up trying to keep all the plates spinning. While we are all responsible for our organization, not every area deserves equal attention.
When I was in restaurant management, I always prided myself on my personal productivity. I would go into work, and I would make sure everything was done that was necessary to keep the business going. I didn’t want anyone to ever say I wasn’t pulling my own weight.
There was an issue with this, my primary focus was on the wrong thing. Yes, things were getting done, and typically the business was doing better than when under previous management, but I was missing the thing that needed my attention the most – my team.
You have probably heard the old adage, “Teamwork makes the dream work”. The problem is, many leaders fail to take care of their teams and wonder why things are not moving forward. They get their job done but wonder why the members of our team are not operating at their full capacity. We think, “They are getting paid so they are fine.” We fail to realize that people are not vending machines, money alone won’t make them operate to their full potential.
Leader, it is your job to take care of your team. Each member of your team needs someone in their corner that uniquely cares for and encourages them.
But exactly how do we do that? This can differ from place to place, but a few questions may help?
1. Who is my team?
If your organization is larger than a few handfuls of people, you will not be able to personally give attention to each person. In this case, you have to decide who will receive personal attention from you. These can include those who are heads of department, your direct reports, or those you desire to personally develop.
2. How will you care for your team?
You can also restate this, “How will you develop them?”. There needs to be a change of perspective to nail this one. Instead of thinking of what is most important in our eyes, we need to discover what is significant in their eyes. Yes, they still need to do their jobs, but when our entire focus is what we can get from them, they will not be as likely to stick around. I heard someone once say, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
Caring for people can include coaching, education, training, public recognition, or private recognition. The goal of this is to make sure the person is uniquely cared for and encouraged. If you are looking for other simple ideas this article from Forbes outlines eleven ways.
3. How will I create space to care for my team?
You can’t just shove things in your calendar when they fit. You have to intentionally and consistently make space for the priorities in your business. Decide how many hours a week you will give to caring for and developing your team. If you are doing one-on-ones you may give a half hour weekly or bi-weekly for your direct reports. You may do a once a month lunch for your team. Whatever you decide to do, it should be part of your schedule.
Someone once said, the potential of your organizations rests on the strength of its people. Caring for and developing your people is one of the most important responsibilities you have. And it will have a great return on investment.
If you are just starting with one-on-one development start small. Pick a person or two, and tell them you want to do one-on-ones for the next 90 days. The goal is not how many people you can develop, but giving adequate time and attention to develop some with excellence.
I would love to hear how you are going to, or currently are, caring for your team.