In larger organizations it is easy for each team to work alone in their own silo. Most teams may not have much in common, or any real reason to work together. However, that kind of behavior inhibits innovation and growth for all teams and for the organization as a whole.
Managers should encourage team leaders to work with one another, and should create an environment where team leaders are rewarded for working together. At first, managers will have to be the facilitators of these interactions and push team leaders to collaborate.
How can managers be facilitators? When meeting with team leaders, managers should listen carefully, and identify areas for collaboration between teams. Managers should then ask one of the team leaders to schedule the meeting with the teams and managers should be present at the meeting. Managers should follow up with the team leaders and ensure that next steps are being followed.
Once this process becomes natural to team leaders, where they look out for opportunities and collaborate. Managers should reward the collaborations by making the successes and failures public to the rest of the organization. Managers should also take a personal interest in the successful collaborations and help direct funds to those projects.
When managers are in the daily grind, working alongside their team, it can be difficult to come up with new fresh perspectives. It is important to view things from all perspectives and to always try to see things in different lights as that is when innovation happens. Here are two ways for managers to help themselves, and their team members, keep their viewpoints fresh:
Managers are humans too, and thus are not great at everything. We have all heard the expression "it takes an army to get it done", and in most cases it really does. Managers require assistance, and lean on their team members to get the job done. Therefore it's very important for managers to be honest with themselves and know what areas they are lacking in. Once a manager knows exactly the skills that they are lacking, they can surrounded themselves with the talent needed to get the job done. Some managers try to do it themselves, and teach themselves skills so that they can get the job done. However, as much as it is important to learn new skills, managers must pick and chose what they will teach themselves. As, time spent learning new skills is time not spent doing what the manager is great at. Here are some pointers for managers:
Managers and team leaders always have to work closely together to accomplish the organization’s goals. One of the main jobs of managers is to manage and grow the team. And one of the main jobs of team leaders is to implement the growth plan. Managers are judged by their performance, thus managers are always looking to make changes to the team that will increase growth. Managers are big picture leaders with an eye on the details, but they lack the intimate knowledge team leaders have with the end customers. It is therefore very important for managers to consult with team leaders before implementing any major changes to a program or service, as the effects can have a negative impact.
Let’s look a pricing to illustrate the point. Managers may want to change the pricing for a product or service, as doing so will increase revenue. However, without the intimate knowledge of knowing the end customer base, they may mistakenly disregard that increasing pricing may have a negative effect and alienate current and new customers. But, by consulting with team leaders managers ensure that the risk they take is measured and should the new policy backfire, managers will be prepared with a backup plan.
Remember, team leaders are the closest to the end user and thus know them best.
Team members sometimes become disengaged from their work. In can happen for different reasons, but it is important for managers to address it immediately. Here are a couple of tips managers can use:
Managers have the tendency, when helping and guiding team members, to give them the answer. However, the key to helping and guiding team members is to give them enough information to enable them to come up with the answer on their own. Here are a couple of tips to help staff members come up with solutions on their own with guidance but not answers from the manager:
OKRs (objectives and key results) serve as both a framework and a starting point for an effective team. Managers must analyze each key result, and together with team members, come to an understanding and strategy of how to achieve each key result. Managers should breakdown each key result into steps and follow up with team members to discuss how the steps are going. As time progresses, and the quarter moves along, managers and team members should redraw the steps to ensure that the key results are fully met.
Breaking down each key result into steps allows team members to learn the process that needs to be followed. Additionally, it helps team members think in a certain way, which is required when they have to deliver on key results. Lastly, having steps to accomplish the key results makes the process of accomplishing them more than just that, it make the process into a learning experience and a journey for the entire team. In addition to the day-to-day tasks and goals, managers should train and educate staff members to be more focused and to think analytically. Managers should remember that managing is always more than just managing, it is also about mentoring and guiding the team members.
When managers need to create a dream team, because they desire to grow their output, should they first hire the dream team and then figure out how to grow? Or should they first create a strategic plan with a step-by-step of how to grow, and then hire the dream team to implement the plan?
The rule of thumb is: hire the team for future needs, not for current needs.
Managers should first create a three year strategic plan detailing their goals. The plan will obviously go through multiple iterations from the time it is created to the end of the third year. However, a plan is a starting point to help managers decide who they need on their team to get things done.
Once managers have their strategic plan they should be create a list of OKRs (objectives and key results) to match the plan. Managers should then review the list and decide who they’ll need to hire in order to get the work done. As managers go through the list, they will find themselves wondering whether they can get more work done with less team members. Managers will obviously be able to do that, however, they should not. Recall the rule of thumb: hire for tomorrow's needs. Thus, managers should hire more staff members than the list of OKRs requires. As, finding the right team members and having them all work in unison is a lot of work. Managers should hire more than they currently require, so that as soon as the team is ready to scale and do more work, the capacity (the team) is already in place to do so, and can hit the ground running.
Every manager occasionally has to tell a team member that they are not a good fit for the team. This is a task that needs to be done properly, here are some things to keep in mind:
1) The fact that the team member is not a good fit does not make that person a bad team member. They are just the wrong fit for a particular team.
2) When speaking to the team member, it is important to explain to him or her, the specific reason for why they are not a good fit for the team.
3) Managers should provide the team member with specific suggestions on ways that the team member can improve and become a better team member.
4) Managers can never know when they will meet the team member again, so being professional is important. Additionally, the team member will remember and mentally review the meeting, and managers want to ensure that they did their best at the meeting.
Managers should remember that having to tell a team member that they are not a good fit is a learning opportunity for both the manager and the team member. Acting as a mentor, despite the fact that the team member will no longer be part of the team, goes a long a way. It ensures that the team member will, down the line, do the same whether they are in a manager or colleague position with a different team. Remember to pay it forward.
The use of OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and the benefits of staff members evaluating themselves
Many tech companies use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to manage teams. The idea is that teams have objectives (what) they want/need to accomplish and key results (how) to make the objectives happen. Each key result is scored and a final number for the objective is given. However, the scoring is done by the teams, not by the managers. The question is: why would teams score themselves, and not have the manager decide this score? How can teams score themselves and be unbiased? Which team would want to underscore themselves, and thereby look bad, for not achieving their objective?
One of the key ingredients in OKRs is team transparency. Teams present their scores in front of other teams and explain, if they came up short, why they weren't successful. Other teams are encouraged to make suggestions and help that team come up with ways to move forward. The focus with OKRs is not just about the end goal, although that is very important, rather its about learning, failing, and finally overcoming challenges and reaching objectives. Thus, when teams score themselves they are not trying to prove to the other teams that they are the best. They are scoring themselves with the purpose of hearing suggestions and advice on how to improve. When improvement is the focus, teams do not over score themselves. They are honest and true to what they have accomplished.
One of the main skill sets managers must have is the ability to listen. At times, managers may feel compelled to give suggestions to staff members without listening to what staff members have to say. Even if the suggestions are good, if the manager does not take time to first listen to staff members, the staff member will feel ignored and the suggestions may not be heeded. Additionally, managers may have good suggestions, but the suggestions may need some tweaking in order for it to be implemented.
Here are so tips:
By following this method, managers ensure that staff members are heard and consulted with, and thus empowered. Once the plan is created and implemented, staff members feel like they were part of the solution.