Leadership Involved Lots of Massages

massageYou see it every day- fat cat CEOs sitting on massage tables, relaxing, and burning the money that their hard-working employees bring in, save and manage.  It is a totally disgusting sight.  Sorry. Wrong article.

As a leader, you will be working with tons of different personalities.  Some are easy to manage and figure out how to get peak performance from.  Others are super complex and take years to figure out.  By one thing is constant- to lead effectively, you need to become a master masseuse of egos.

Everyone everywhere wants to feel important.  To get the most out of each person, you need to make sure they do.  That means most of your day is putting out mental fires.  Taking the time to connect with each person, making sure they realize how valued they are to your team and the overall organization.

So how do you do this?  Depending on the number of direct reports that you have, create a “10 Minutes Every Day” culture.  As the title suggests, you need to have an individual 10 minute meeting with each team member every day.  During this time, you need to cover what is going on with their tasks, what is going on with their lives and how to improve performance in both to achieve your team goals. 

Your team members should feel comfortable to bring up issues that are hurting their performance and tell you “how they feel” and “what they think”.

Over time, these sessions will make every part of your job easier.  Performance reviews become obsolete, bonus tracking is a daily occurrence, and everyone should know where they stand with you and inside the team.

When I managed really large teams (16-20 direct reports plus their reports), this took about 3.5 hours of my day.  Considering I was working 10-12 hours a day, spending 25% your time with your team is not outrageous. 

What happened was that my team knew every pitfall that was ahead of them from a corporate standpoint, what they needed to improve upon and where they were exceling.  The calls were punctual, during times that were not invasive since we confirmed the next day’s call based on our mutual schedules and helped build lasting relationships.

Even the toughest personalities to work with eventually liked the open forum of our calls.

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Don’t Ease Up at the Finish Line

lady-at-finish-lineAt this point in the year, everyone is comfortable in their company.  They know how the company should finish the year, what kind of bonus to expect and whether their position is likely to move forward into the new year.  They know what is expected of them to perform their tasks and who to work with to accomplish that.

As a leader, you are also probably feeling good about your team.  You are looking forward to the natural ramp down due to the holidays and recharging your batteries to drive your team starting in the new year.  Budgets and goals have been approved and unless you work in a seasonal business, meeting frequency has dropped.

But a true leader knows that now is not the time to rest on your laurels.  You need to keep your forward momentum going.  There is no on/off switch on your team’s performance.  Allowing the bad habits of being content creep into your culture will take months to remove.  Everyone deserves a little coasting time, but not at the expense of team performance.

Now is a good time to:

1.       Review holiday vacation schedules.  Coverage is key.  Clients (both internal and external) will still need your team to perform at peak efficiency.  Having your entire team out at the same time will surely hurt your company’s performance.

2.       Do a “final review” of this year’s goals.  Before bonuses and performance evaluations start, take the time to go through each member’s goals and challenges to see where they will end up.  If they need to schedule a continuing education class, now is the time to do it.

3.       Have a preliminary 2017 team meeting.  Let your team know what may be expected of them in the coming months so they can mentally prepare for it.  Go over challenges, rewards, and plans.

4.       Review your goals with your management.  Without their buy in, getting anything done will be next to impossible.  Ask them specifically for ways for you to improve personal and team performance and efficiency.

Use this slow period to position your team and yourself to have the best year as possible.  Waiting until January to do that is not smart and will only cause your team to not live up to their potential.