Monday, February 16, 2009

Vitamin C for your team

Great brands and marketing strategies are not created in isolation – they are created by motivated and talented people. With teams decimated by lay-offs and fatigued by increased work-loads along with the pressure to deliver results, morale is at an all-time low. How can you keep your team motivated to deliver their best work?

The answer is to ensure you are being an effective leader and coach for your people. So how can you, on top of all the increased demands, make sure you are giving your team what they need?

A great article by Daisy Wademan Dowling in the HBS blog had some powerful tips that only take 15 minutes of your day.

  1. Turn dead time into development time. Walking back to your office after a meeting? Use those two minutes to give your direct report feedback on the presentation, and on how he could do better next time. He didn't have a speaking role? Ask him how he thought the meeting went and how he might have made certain points differently — and then offer feedback on that. Direct, in-the-moment feedback is your single best tool for developing people.
  2. Constantly spot dead time. Look for every two-minute stretch in your day during which you could be talking to someone else — most often, that's travel time — and convert each into a coaching opportunity. Walking down to Starbucks to get a coffee? Driving to the airport? Headed out to your car at the end of the day? Ask one of your people to come along with — and talk to them about their goals and priorities.
  3. Show up in their workspace. Employees expect you to stay in your seat. Don't. Once per day, get up and walk over to the desk of someone you haven't spoken to recently. Take two minutes to ask her what she's working on. Once she's done answering, respond "What do you need from me to make that project/transaction successful?" Message to employee: I know who you are, I've got high expectations — and I've got your back.
  4. Make two calls per day. On your way home from work, call (or email) two people you met with that day, and offer "feedforward." "I like what you've done with the Smithers account. Next time, let's try to keep marketing costs down. Thanks for your hard work." Always make "thank you" a part of the message. Employees who feel appreciated, and know that you're trying to develop their skills, stay engaged over the long run.
  5. Be Authentic. (I'm adding this # myself) Listen actively, ask questions and follow through if you've done #3 and offered your support. And above all else, be consistent.

With consistent (read: daily) use, these strategies will pay off. Your team will feel like you're not just their boss, but a coach that is there to help them succeed. In return, they'll sharpen their skills and stay motivated.

harvard business blog

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