A few months ago, I was hosting a session with leaders on the importance of knowing their team members, their strengths, short comings and what inspires them, when one leader came to me and said, “Tex, to be honest with you, I do not have time for this, I am here to achieve my sales targets”.
It was not for the first time that I heard such a comment from a “leader” and it made me think more. This naturally led to another question which was, “how well do you know your team members to leverage their strengths to hit your sales targets?’ The response was a moment of silence and a stunned face. After a sigh of relief, he said, “honestly, I hardly make time to understand my team.
Some leaders assume that knowing their team members by names and titles or recognising their faces is enough.
There is greater value in knowing your team, what inspires them, their strengths, what steals their joy, what they are going through, etc.:
Building emotional bank account:
Stephen Covey contends that “really seeking to understand another person is probably one of the most important deposits you can make…”. It’s a way of building trust and demonstrating that you value them first and foremost as human beings. You need to deposit more time with individual team members, have coffee frequently and take a walk around the office block listening in a non-judgemental manner.
Earlier this year, a colleague had his house demolished by fire and lost his valuable possessions. His manager disregarded what the employee was going through and expected him to finish a report before he could go home. He was livid for the poor quality of the report he received from this employee which under normal circumstances was not the case. Understanding challenges that affects your employees is vital to determine the type of support to be provided. It is about bringing the team together behind the distressed person and strengthening collaboration when it is needed most. It assures others that should they experience similar challenges, they will be taken care of.
Leverage their strengths:
A great soccer coach positions his or her players according to their strengths. Expecting a natural centre forward to perform the role of a mid-fielder might be asking too much. Matching each employee to their strengths and aspirations creates meaning for the employee and helps the organisation achieve its objectives. You can achieve this only with full understanding of the capabilities of each member of your team.
Represent employees effectively:
Have you ever seen a leader going blank when asked to substantiate why they rated their employees the way they did? It’s scary, because some leaders regard knowing their employees as optional. Lack of knowledge of your employees’ performance standards might disadvantage those who deserve better or advantage the less deserving. You need to know your employees to be able to position, market and sell them for critical projects and promotion opportunities. You cannot do this if you can hardly string a sentence about how your team members add value.
Think Big, Dream Wild & Prosper
Tex Hlalele is a life and business coach and inspirational speaker. Book coaching and speaking engagements at http://www.dreamsmadepossible.co.za/#coaching-sessions. If you liked this piece, please sign up to receive email correspondence that will come to you once a week.