The Recipe For Successful Team Management
Ever walked into a restaurant to have a dish so good, that you already plan to visit it again? Most of us have one such favourite restaurant, and one favourite dish in that restaurant. It’s important to note that the same dish might be available elsewhere, but this one, is divine. It is more than just the name, or the mix of its ingredients. It is a work of art that speaks to you in ways nothing else can.
So what makes the dish irresistible? It is a culmination of several crucial elements. The ingredients, the processes, the environment in which it is prepared, all add up to give a gob-smacking experience. Like someone rightly said, the God is in the details. The chef identifies the ingredients, each of which brings its unique properties to the table. Then, a specific cooking technique is applied to each ingredient, that results in a smorgasbord of textures. While the techniques are there for all to see, knowing which technique to apply when and timing it right– makes all the difference. That’s what defines between a dish that goes to the bin, and one that is raved about.
This literal recipe for success transcends to business as well. Every organisation has a team that works to achieve its vision. But what separates a successful organisation from an unsuccessful one? Well, in two words – team management.
It might be easier to correlate if one could look at their employees as ingredients of a dish. If you don’t leverage each one’s uniqueness, you won’t get the desired result. You may even buy exotic ingredients to make a dish but if it doesn’t suit the palate (read: vision), the dish will not succeed. And this is where most organisations struggle – getting the right team, to do the right thing, at the right time.
The recipe for successful team management requires several aspects of your business to align perfectly, such that it enables you to derive the most optimal flavour (output) from your team. Here’s what you can do:
1. Visit your vision, again and again
Even when ‘winging it’ or experimenting, the chef knows how he wants the dish to taste at the end. He will tailor the use of ingredients accordingly. He gives clear instructions to the other cooks and with their help realises his vision.
Similarly, the first step would be to clarify your vision. Make it a point to bring up the organisation’s vision as often as possible. If need be curate sessions to ensure the entire teams reflects on the company’s vision at least once a year. If you don’t have one, take the time to create one. Some large companies work out themes based on their vision to align people to a common, focused goal each year.
These discussions or sessions give the team an opportunity to discuss various approaches to achieve the vision. This way, the team not only sees the vision that is to be achieved but is also instilled with the confidence required to achieve it. If required, demonstrate for your team.
A team that knows what is expected, will work more cohesively. A team that knows it can be done, will do it zealously.
2. Be mindful of your work environment
A good chef knows that to make a recipe for success, you have to keep your ingredients at the optimal level, instead of letting them spoil.
The thumb rule for team management is to know the pulse of your workplace. Keep a tab to ensure that the work environment does not spoil. In my experience, even one incident could change the mood in the workplace for better or worse. Be proactive to ensure that all employees are largely positive about the work and the workplace.
An organisation can gain insight into their people in more than one way. Online feedback forums, one on one sessions, grievances handling cells or skip level interviews are simple ways to get an understanding of the ‘feeling’ in a workplace. When your employees know that they are being heard and understood, that they are cared for, they are more likely to perform better for you.
Organisations must create the best environment for their employees to enable them to contribute to the best of their ability. Create an enabling environment where respect is sought and earned, as opposed to recognition.
3. Enable ownership
All organisations want employees to work with ownership. But ownership does not come without decision making power. If employees are dependent on their immediate supervisors for every decision, chances are your organisation is working half time.
Empowerment & ownership does not mean a situation where the employees are calling the shots. It simply entails allowing employees to take charge of a situation and letting them grow into that role. What it tells the employee(s) is that you trust them and are willing to trust their instincts in managing that specific task. This also helps in boosting employee engagement. This is the sort of ownership that organisations must look to enable.
Yes, there will be mistakes, and no, I am not implying that you let employees make mistakes over and over again. Agree to meet regularly to discuss course-corrections, where required. It will provide further insights into the individual and will also help you understand the nuances of the specialised project. A fried egg on a bed of fried rice does not ‘call the shots’ even though it does become a focal point of the dish. Instead, the egg owns the dish, becomes its USP and elevates the dish to a level that would not have been possible with just the fried rice. Know your golden egg, and allow it to take ownership.
4. Develop your team with the same enthusiasm as you would develop your business
While assigning ‘responsibility’ has been a go-to tactic to inspire performance, also focus on personal development.
It is often seen that employees are unable to plan their own growth or their career. This happens even with those who are senior and experienced. The primary reason for this is lack of direction and in some cases lack of knowledge. While companies spend approximately a quarter of the year planning for business, only a few days are spent over talent planning. This can sometimes put the business in a conflicting spot because your talent will not be equipped to take your business forward.
Very often the talent that we need is seated at one of the desks within our organisation. Effective talent planning can help you identify high potential employees. You can put them on fast track developmental programmes and prepare a future generation of leaders that will take the reins of your success.
Taking an active interest in the development of your team goes a long way in driving loyalty, commitment and ensuring your success as a company. When you focus on developing your employees, they are more likely to appreciate the effort you put in, and will be more inclined to perform for you.
Like I often quote to my clients, other than your product and service, your key differentiator are your people. They are all unique and managing them is also an essential function of your business. Perhaps more essential than your core product or service as today there is a perceived talent crunch in every industry. And even the best of the best companies face attrition. Even Google. But the company that is able to grow whilst retaining their top talent, will certainly win the race to success. And the strategy to adopt is to cultivate your team’s talent for what you foresee as a requirement for the future.
At Yellow Spark, we specialise in developing plans for effective resource management, manpower planning and streamlining systems & process to create an enabling work environment for your employees. You can write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org for customised modules and workshops for your organisation.
Author Profile: Aparna Joshi Khandwala is a passionate HR professional. She co-founded Yellow Spark to work with like-minded people who believe in the power of leadership, which is the only business differentiator in today’s time.