Strong leadership is a key to any successful organization. Good leaders can help teams maximize productivity and achieve business goals. Yet under weak leadership, those same teams may become unproductive and ineffective.
Leaders who excel in their role employ a combination of skills to effectively balance the ever-changing volume of responsibilities and priorities. While there is no shortcut to becoming a great leader, here a few tips to keep your team on the right track to success!
1. Review new goals and priorities
Before you assign any new work, take the time to ask yourself, “Is this project aligned to our corporate goals?” If the answer is no, or isn’t clear, you need to dig deeper into why it is important to be introducing this work now.
When you introduce a new priority for your staff, question those involved as to how it may affect ongoing projects… don’t assume your team can just absorb more work. Ask questions like,” What can I do to make this easier – to help you meet this new priority or goal on time?” Expect that workloads may have to be re-assigned, or that you may even have to pick up some of the slack yourself.
2. Reframe current goals
Learn to clearly communicate the end goal for each of your projects to your staff. Review the process needed to attain these results together with your team. This should include discussions on individual responsibilities, the skills and resources required to complete the work, and how progress and success will be evaluated. This should encourage collaboration, without stifling individuals’ options to introduce creativity or innovation in the solution.
Working together to come to an agreement on these components should foster a high level of engagement within the team, and the commitment to complete the goal.
3. Pay attention to the work/life balance of your team
Take the time to have honest, one-on-one conversations with staff to appreciate their stress levels. Is their current workload manageable? Are there outside demands compounding the stress of work/life balance – extra child care, lack of sufficient technical skills to handle work from home, space to work from home effectively, etc.? Being equipped with knowledge of these stresses will prepare you to help alleviate some of them.
4. Do an administrative audit
Arrange for a time to meet with staff when you can jointly review all the reports, memos, regularly scheduled meetings and previous workloads and come to a consensus on what is still applicable. Evaluate what reports are still needed – can they be produced less often, with less information? Which meetings are necessary, are the right people attending, and is there a viable agenda for each meeting? End up with a list of what can be removed until needed again (if ever).
5. Declare an “official” work day
Whether your staff are working from the office or their home, the time limits of the “official” work day need to be declared. This is the fastest way to be certain people aren’t working 24/7. Make rule number one that they must not access their work email – this includes reading or sending messages – before the “start work” time at the beginning of the day, or after the “stop work” time at the end of the day. This does not disallow flexible work – it just serves as notice that team members are allowed a life outside of work.
Dale Wilcox is co-owner of WATMEC. Dale is a respected board member, former volunteer of the year, and inaugural Chair of the Canadian Society for Training and Development.