Your team is smarter than they look. I promise. If they’re not learning as fast as they you would like, stop and consider. What if it’s not them– but you? Here are three ways to make your team 10% smarter.
1. Stop Interrupting
I didn’t get this right away in my growth as an executive. I figured these were seasoned leaders. If they were busy when I called, they’d tell me. But I soon learned that despite my best intentions, I was considered “the boss.” Yeah, you’ve got it– The “imperfect” kind. When I called, they answered–dropping everything to get me what I needed.
Of course every now and then that’s EXACTLY what you need. The sky is falling, the customer’s really ticked off, or your bosses’ hair is on fire. Got it.
Just remember, creative work and breakthroughs require concentration. No one does their best thinking in a constant barrage of interruption.
If it can wait, give back some mental energy by making ongoing lists for each person and setting a time to run through what you need. They’ll be in a better space to think and respond, and in the meantime they got on with their other priorites. Resist the urge to just pick up the phone and disrupt their flow.
2. Give Permission to Do
I recently met with the founder and CEO of a medium size company who had brought me in to do some leadership development work with the frontline team. I shared the laundry list of amazing business improvement ideas that had surfaced as we talked leadership– literally side effects of deeper conversation. These were solid ways to improve revenue and customer service. His response, “Karin, what CEO in their right mind would be upset with them just doing these things? If they’re good ideas, why didn’t they just do them?”
His entrepreneurial spirit couldn’t imagine a mindset of waiting for permission, but he’d not said that out loud. Be sure if your team is busting with ideas they feel encouraged to share and try them.
3. Expose Them to More
In almost every company I’m working with one of the big asks is to help the team think more strategically. As I dig in the number one issue is almost always lack of exposure to the bigger context of the vision, the financial strategy, or how their work connects with other departments. It’s impossible to connect the dots if you only see half of them. The more your team knows, the deeper their thinking will become. If you want to grow big picture thinkers, give them something to think about beyond their current role.
The Rest of the Story
This is part four in a seven part series of how to outsmart the competition. If you’re just tuning in, here’s the rest of the story.