In today’s highly competitive business environment, how well your team performs has a direct impact on the bottom line. Just as important, to be considered an employer of choice, having a desirable workplace culture is a must. Successful collaboration within teams and strengthening the relationship between managers and colleagues can have a positive influence on both.
I believe that by communicating openly, establishing a climate of trust, and creating a culture that attracts talent, teams can work together more efficiently and businesses can thrive. In this post, I’ll offer suggestions on how you can work towards these ideals. While it might be tempting in this data-driven world to emphasize measurements of performance and productivity, I think it’s important to focus on those sometimes-overlooked people skills.
Foster open communication
As managers, it is within our power to dramatically impact the success of our teams and workplace culture. One of the best ways we can do that is to make it clear that open communication is expected and welcomed. This means hearing about issues people are facing and working together to reach a resolution. It means asking for feedback after a new idea or program has been introduced. But it also means actively soliciting input and engaging with your team for their thoughts and ideas on ways to improve the business, increase productivity, or even build team camaraderie.
Empathy and positivity are much-valued traits that should be consistent along team members. Issues with customers or with a colleague can be openly communicated and directly solved with understanding and respect. This builds trust and will encourage employees to share ideas and information that would be beneficial to the organization. With trust, the whole team grows stronger, and that’s good for business.
Be a font of positivity
Optimism is contagious. Whether at work or in other activities, there are always situations where you struggle, where you don’t know how to handle different situations, and where you question yourself. I believe in focusing on what’s possible. When facing a tough situation, encourage your team to try to make the best of it and collaborate on a solution that can best tackle the challenges. Rather than focus on the negative, be a role model for positivity. Show that everything is manageable and anything is possible with careful thought and planning.
This mindset can carry over to your approach to work outside your direct team. For example, in my role consulting with customers, I approach situations with the same mindset. I arrive at meetings prepared with a clear vision of the desired outcome and ideas about the best approach to a situation, with the aim of offering a compelling strategy for reaching the desired goal. My customers are busy. They appreciate being approached with such clarity. I appreciate it when my team members do the same.
Invest in the development of your team
Investing your time into the development of your team is crucial for individual and business success.
It’s easy to get distracted by our daily tasks. Taking time out of the day to meet with your team may seem like a low priority when so many other responsibilities and deadlines are screaming for attention. But to overlook the importance of interacting with your team would be a mistake. To build your team, make time for one-on-one meetings. In the spaces between meetings, run surveys to inquire about the needs of employees or colleagues to understand how they perceive different things.
Beyond giving them your mindshare, another important way to invest in your team is to support their ongoing growth and development. Pursue training opportunities or encourage your team to seek them out. Allow time for training each year to help people feel engaged and inspired by their work. Innovation dies in a stagnant environment. Encourage growth and development.
Pay it forward
Who you are today has been shaped by how others have approached work and interacted with you, whether conscious or subconscious. This is true regardless of role, level of responsibility, industry, or work environment. It is because of this tendency that I believe we managers must make a concerted effort to lead by example.
I was fortunate enough to work with managers early in my career who believed in me and trusted me. I was shown openness and allowed to participate, share my opinion, and provide feedback. I was given a lot of freedom in my work to do what I thought was best for the company and my team. But I was also expected to perform and produce results. It is in this environment that creativity thrives and businesses flourish. That has shaped who I am as a manager today, and I strive to share my good fortune with the next generation. I hope these ideas will shape your approach as well.
For more insight on developing your leadership skills, listen to the latest episode of A Call to Lead, a new podcast hosted by SAP’s Jennifer Morgan.