30 September 2010

Importance of checking up with your team regularly

Some people have the gift of sensing atmosphere, moods and spotting if something is slightly wrong/different with someone. This post is for all the others that like me can’t do that.

I remember when I was the big boss president, one of the key things I discovered is that there is no such thing as too much leading when you have a team. I am not talking about boosting your ego, talking all the time, giving all the answers or putting your feet down and only accept things your way. That’s really not the point and as a leader you should learn to lean in and out as necessary. It’s more about interacting with your team frequently and constantly – more importantly, in a proactive way.

There is a lot of “reactive” team management to be done, conflicts arise, plans change, budgets get cut, things go to hell  and all that, but I perceive that a key thing for an awesome leader is to proactively manage the team. It’s like a health check up: you can go frequently to the doctor, discover some stuff that can lead to some bad sickness in the future, treat it early and relax, OR ignore going to the doctor, run to the emergency room and take the consequences of a late diagnostic.

Leaders could (should) be proactive in talking with their teams and checking up if there is something that could be improved, how they are doing (work, personal, etc), frustrations, things that they like about working with you, feedback, etc. Of course employees could (should) be more proactively in seeking their managers, but if a managers gives the first step, usually it’s easier for everyone.

How to do it? Anyway you and the individual people in your team feel comfortable. When I was president, some people preferred to have a monthly talk in the café, others preferred a more structured 15m weekly meeting, another responded well for having a meal together… the important part is to make it constant enough that you are always on top of what is going on and not constant enough that it is annoying for the team member.

Sometimes people don’t even expect that you will solve the problem, they just want some empathy, just want to feel they are listened by the leader.

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