Here are some extra things to think about, and resources to download, to help you Flip Your “Do-It-All” Attitude.
Certain Things to Do and Questions to Ask when You Have Developmental Conversations
Coaching is one of the key ways leaders impact the performance of their teams according to Salas and his colleagues. They contend that as a coach, you use the skills and knowledge you already have not to do the work, but to build up the skills and task-related knowledge of team members. As a coach, you use your skills and knowledge as a guide to understand whether each person on your team has the knowledge and skills to actually perform his or her job. If they don’t do their job, you don’t do it for them. Rather, coach them up. For example:
- Let each team member know how their position fits into the overall tasks and goals of the team, and how their work fits in with the work of others.
- Set goals and provide feedback on how well the team is progressing towards those goals.
- Provide opportunities for team members to build their individual skills and teamwork skills. Give training or developmental opportunities to your team members.
- Build confidence in your team members.
- Have coaching conversations with members of your staff or team. It’s not saying, “I would have done it this way…” Rather, you open up a dialogue and ask questions like:
- “What else could you do?”
- “What have you done before and why hasn’t it worked?”
- “Could you see the situation in a different way from another person’s perspective?”
- “What have you not considered?”
As a mentor, you leverage your own position in your organization and your own expertise to sponsor others and transfer your knowledge to them. While coaching can have a short-term focus on performance, mentoring has a long-term focus, with a spotlight on future success.
According to Salas and his colleagues, being a mentor is important particularly at the beginning of team formation. Think about it – team members often are in a fog due to all the uncertainty and ambiguity that comes with newly formed teams. When people work in uncertainty and ambiguity, they can’t do their jobs. So, it’s your job as their boss to decrease that uncertainty and ambiguity. You can do that by being a role model, which is an integral part of being a mentor. That means you:
- Model the appropriate behavior expected for the team to function through the advice and support you give.
- Model how people should be inclusive and accepting of others.
- Model how people should collaborate and share ownership.
- Model how people should act as a team and not as individuals.
- Model the way people should communicate openly. Talk about appropriate behaviors, attitudes, values, rules, and norms openly, with everyone.
More Tips on Feedback
You read about how to give feedback (SBI), the 19 words that are important to give “wise” feedback, and the importance of delivering feedback often (the “feedback” ratio of 5:1). Here are other tips:
- Providing feedback is not about fixing people. If there is something wrong with you, how open are you to “being fixed?” That thought probably doesn’t go over very well, does it? People get very defensive if they have to “be fixed” and they will shut down and shut you off. Like your role in resolving conflict, it’s not your role to fix people when you give them feedback. Relieve that responsibility from yourself. Instead, help the people you lead and serve become aware of what they need to start, stop, or continue to do, to be effective through the feedback you give them. If “being fixed” bring up walls of defense for you, it probably will with the people you lead and serve too. Don’t fix them, provide feedback to help and support them.
- Keep feedback simple. SBI has three parts, so aim for three short, concise, and clear sentences. Steer clear of generalities like “always” and “never” because truthfully, nobody does something all the time or never. Avoid sarcastic humor to lighten the situation – keep it straight, to the point. And do not mix feedback with a threat or promise to avoid sending a mixed message.
- Practice giving feedback. It’s hard giving SBIs on the fly when you start to adopt it as a way to provide feedback. At first, you may need to take some time alone and write them out before delivering it. You also may need to practice saying the SBI to yourself in the mirror, or to a trusted friend or advisor before you deliver it to the person it’s intended for.
- Don’t sandwich feedback. Even the best of bosses hate to deliver negative feedback, but they do still do it. You may find it difficult at first, so you may try to put in a compliment or positive feedback first (that’s the bottom slice of bread). Then comes “the meat” or the bad news. Then put on that top-slice of bread whether it be another piece of positive feedback, a compliment, or some other means of dismissing the “meat” of the sandwich. If you sandwich your feedback this way, people will ignore the first thing they hear because they know the bad news is coming next. And they won’t hear the last part because they will be stuck on the bad news in the middle. Sandwiches are great for lunch and picnics. Not for feedback.
- Feedback is not a compliment, it’s more than that. Saying, “You did great at the presentation,” is not feedback. That’s giving someone praise. And, if someone hears that, he or she doesn’t know what to start, stop, or continue doing, based on what was seen or heard (and might not even know what presentation you are talking about in the first place). Compliments, praise, congratulations, adorations, and applause are great and should be part of your script as a new leader. Any great boss should do it. But feedback is more than a compliment. If you want to be the boss everyone wants to work for, strive to give compliments and feedback. By giving someone feedback, you’ll be developing the person by explaining what to start, stop, or continue doing based on an exact behavior that you and the other person both acknowledge happened.
How to Make Your Staff or Team Meetings More Enjoyable (or at least, Tolerable)
We will never escape meetings. I think having the reputation of running great meetings can only help you. The opposite is true too – run sucky meetings, no one will want to work with you. So, I thought it could be useful to discuss some do’s and don’ts in meetings,
Professor Steven Rogelberg (you may remember his work on “mindchatter” from Chapter 1) and his colleagues have studied meetings for more than a decade, published more than a dozen studies and his work has been cited by news outlets like NPR and CNBC. You probably already know what they found – people don’t like meetings, they waste time and money, and those who run meetings generally are horrible at it.
But you don’t have to be one of those people. Grow your reputation for running successful and enjoyable (or at the very least, tolerable) meetings and good things will follow. I would recommend following these tips from their work:
1) We actually like meetings when objectives are clear. So:
- Provide an agenda.
- Have specific goals and objectives for the meeting.
- Provide relevant materials to read or research well ahead of the time of the meeting so attendees can reflect and prepare in advance.
2) We hate meetings when they are a time drain, unstructured, and are unproductive. So, create norms. Just like a “team charter” from Chapter 4, make a charter for those who normally attend your meetings. How will you ensure that your meetings:
- Stay on task.
- Allow time for people to speak and reflect.
- Promote people to not just talk, but listen.
- Respond appropriately to conflict.
- Not have someone who dominates the conversation.
3) We dread meetings when people are late. On the other hand, we actually look forward to meetings when they are timely and people are punctual. Nonverbal channels like “rhythm and use of time” in Chapter 2 can pertain to meetings too. So:
- Don’t default on the length of the meeting – if a meeting truly should last 15 minutes, don’t schedule an hour.
- Start the meeting on time.
- End the meeting on time.
- Stick to the times of the agenda as closely as possible.
- Evaluate at the midway point of the meeting how well it’s going, and adjust.
- Evaluate at the end of the meeting how well it went, and adjust for the next meeting.
4) We actually look forward to meetings when information is shared that is relevant to us. We hate meetings when we don’t have a purpose being there. So:
- Do you even need a meeting in the first place? Can you just go over to a person’s cube or office for 5 minutes and get it straightened out without involving others?
- Only invite people to meetings who should be there or have a vested interest in attending. Believe me, they will thank you if they are not invited to a meeting that doesn’t concern them.
- Assign roles during the meeting. Give participants certain roles like a “devil’s advocate” or “client/customer perspective” or “meeting facilitator” or “timekeeper” or “note-taker/scribe.” This helps bring about high-quality discussions, and attendees will likely broaden their own perceptions, listen more, and stick to norms.
- Rotate roles in future meetings. Being a devil’s advocate or meeting leader once or twice may be nice, but it is draining for you and other attendees if that is your permanent role.
- Follow up. Summarize the discussions, make sure people know their work assignments, clearly state deadlines, and let people know who is accountable for work or decisions.
When asked by CNBC, Rogelberg said, “If you are running a meeting, your job is to orchestrate the experience. You are a steward of other people’s time. That mindset is going to make a tremendous difference in how often you call meetings.” For meetings, think less about yourself and more about others (It’s not about me, right?). Ensure the time of meeting attendees isn’t wasted.
Ways to Deal with Conflict Among your Team
Don’t Avoid Resolving Conflicts.
In any team, conflict is inevitable among team members or with people outside the team. When you flip your definition of work, you deal with, manage, reduce, and ultimately resolve conflict—you don’t avoid it. If you ignore a conflict or leave it unresolved, your team can become disengaged.
But there is a difference between resolving conflict and fixing it. It’s not your job to fix it. So what should you do? Recent research from studies of romantic relationships may help you understand the type of role you need to play. No question, conflict amongst your team members can cause irreparable damage. But in a series of seven studies by Amie Gordon and Serena Chen, if people believe their thoughts, feelings, and point of view are understood by others, the ill-effects of conflict are negated. In their studies, when people felt understood, they felt the conflict was less harmful, and in fact, somewhat beneficial. So as a new leader, let this research release you from thinking that you must fix everything. Your role is not about fixing people or the situation. Rather, be a boss who encourages people to share their thoughts, feelings, and perspective so that they can feel as if they are understood by everyone. You can reduce the harmful effects of conflict if you foster an environment where people feel understood.
To be the boss everyone wants to work for, you should help resolve conflict amongst your team. Here are other pieces of advice to resolve conflict from expert Lindred Greer.
- Keep an eye on conflicts and disagreements. When you flip your definition of work, you monitor your team. That means, in part, you manage the emotions and conflict that occur among team members. So be aware of what is happening with members of your team.
- Understand the real issue before addressing it. Understand each team member’s perspective. Is someone mad because of something that just happened? Or is there a history behind the disagreement that has nothing to do with the project? Is there now competition amongst team members that is counter to a norm and someone is trying to assert power or influence to get resources? When you monitor your team, get the real story before you intervene.
- Be an unbiased, neutral party. When you intervene in a conflict, be as fair as possible. You don’t need to treat everyone equally, but you need to treat everyone fairly. Leave your own biases, friendships, and history aside when you intervene. If you feel too attached to the situation, bring in a neutral, objective, mediator or another party to help.
Here are some downloadable materials and job aids for you:
- Want to remind yourself of 2 things to do to flip your “Do-It-All” Attitude?
- Want to remind yourself about SBI?
- Want a reminder on how to manage conflict in your team?
- Want reminders on how to model your behavior as a leader?