GUEST POST BY JOE LEONARD
Whether you’re a shift lead, office manager, or business owner, you have to know how to effectively lead a group of people. This can be tricky for a number of reasons:
Personalities can clash,
Communication styles vary, and
You may be uncomfortable telling others what to do.
When you first get promoted, for example, you often have to learn how to manage co-workers who used to be your friends. Making such a transition can be awkward; but if you employ a few simple tips, you can be the kind of leader people respect and enjoy working with.
1 | Listen To Your Team
Allowing your team a regular opportunity to voice any concerns they have ensures that they feel heard, and helps quell resentment or gossip. It also provides an opportunity to address issues that may be going on that you aren’t aware of.
These opportunities can be a chance to discuss positive things as well, like ideas for how to be more efficient or grow the company. Opening up the channels of communication will give everyone a chance to participate in the bigger picture, improving morale in the office and making it easier for people to speak up when there is a problem.
2 | Make Feedback Routine
Routinely giving feedback to your team members allows you to easily address issues with your employees. When they do something well, tell them. Nobody is going to be upset that you take time out of your day to commend them for the things they do well at work.
When there’s something they need to improve on, decide the best way to address it with them. Maybe it’s a quick, in-the-moment correction, or perhaps it’s something better addressed in private. If you make giving feedback something you do regularly then you will be able to communicate more efficiently and it won’t seem like a particular criticism is coming out of nowhere.
3 | Let Staff In On The Plan
Many team leaders run operations based on a plan that they have in their head, and they wrongly assume everyone else will simply play their part in carrying that out. A big mistake many people make is forgetting to let everyone in on what part they will each play and why.
Explaining your reasoning and giving people a glimpse of the bigger picture allows them to feel included and also provides them with motivation and understanding to achieve the tasks you give to them. If your coworker knows why you’re having them do what you’ve asked them to do, it makes a world of difference than just being ordered around. Knowing their role in the plan you’ve created will allow them to be an active participant.
4 | Figure out Strengths and Weaknesses
In the process of delegating tasks to people, you very quickly realize who can handle certain tasks and who can’t. Knowing what everyone is capable of allows you to maximize efficiency and avoid dysfunction in the workplace. If you notice that one of your coworkers is really good at the creative side of their job but inefficient with more practical tasks, you can pair them on a project with someone whose strength is getting things done.
Similarly, while being able to maximize efficiency in the short term, knowing what their weaknesses are will allow you to help them grow in the long term. You can help them turn a weakness into a strength, and improve the team rather than just fix an immediate problem.
5 | Ask Staff What Their Goals Are
Find out what your team members want out of their positions. What do they like about what they do? Where do they most want to focus more energy? You can’t have everyone doing only the tasks they like, but if you give everyone a chance to do something they enjoy and do well, they may be much more willing to the tasks that they perhaps don’t want to do.
Work often involves doing things we would rather not be doing, but it shouldn’t be primarily something we hate. Help your team members find the joy in their jobs and the more cumbersome tasks will be significantly lightened, often improving production and efficiency as a result.
6 | Keep The Ego Out
It can be tempting to take things personally at work. You want to be able to make a decision and have your team members follow that decision. While you are the person in charge, that doesn’t mean that you’re infallible.
Everyone makes mistakes, and the best leaders are able to recognize this and own up to it. If you’re the kind of leader that refuses to acknowledge that, then your team members aren’t going to be likely to trust your leadership. But if you take responsibility for your mistakes and hold yourself accountable, your coworkers will know they have a leader they can trust.
This can apply to ideas as well. Great leaders recognize talent and innovation in the people they lead. Being open to suggestions and ideas for improvement from your team members will help you grow as a leader. You may need to filter the good ideas from the less good and make the final call, but don’t be hesitant to accept an idea that is not your own. After all, a team where everyone participates is stronger than one where they don’t.
Everyone wants to be liked by the people they work with, but they also want to be taken seriously. It can be a tough balance to try and do your job as efficiently as you can whilst keeping in mind the feelings and dynamics of your coworkers. Just remember that you’re dealing with human beings, and nobody is perfect. Things are going to happen, feelings are going to get hurt, and mistakes are going to be made. But as long as you keep the communication open and the ego out of it, you’ll have a chance of being a great leader.
AUTHOR BIO: JOE LEONARD
Joe is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes a blog of topical, emotionally powerful articles and essays, often with an emphasis on comedy. He also writes episodic television and short films.
What do you think it takes to be a great leader?