Meet Calvin. Calvin’s just been promoted to manager – a role he’s coveted for years. He is passionate about his company and its new strategic direction, but as a first-time manager trying to navigate the not-so-easy world of leadership, he has a dilemma.
“I know I can contribute to the company’s growth and strategic direction as a manager, but I’m not sure how to fire up this team! They don’t understand the direction and what it means for us. I’ve got great ideas for how we can support the strategy, but I need everyone on board.”
Sound familiar? Calvin is full of new ideas and can hardly contain his enthusiasm to set them in motion. Yet, he’s feeling frustrated by his team because they simply don’t share his passion. As a new leader, Calvin has to figure out how he can get each member of his team to feel as inspired and energized as he does. For all you Calvins out there, here are three ways great managers can inspire their teams:
#1: Offer Perspective
Great managers realize they have to help individuals see the big picture of what the company is working toward. It can be quite challenging for your people to contemplate the big picture when most of their time is spent zoomed in, heads down on the singular tasks and responsibilities of their role. Empower your people by giving them the right perspective:
Remember what it’s like not to know:
Remember, your people aren’t in the same planning meetings you attend. They aren’t having the same kinds of conversations about the company’s goals and strategic direction. So, remember this and take every opportunity to share what you know with the team.
Use what you’ve got
Leverage existing touch points to share knowledge. Use one-on-one meetings, team meetings, quick connects, conference calls, email, etc. to offer perspective to your team. Take the timeto be sure individuals understand how a new project or assignment connects to the broader business.
Meet people where they are
One size does not fit all when it comes to offering perspective. Each individual on your team may have a slightly different level of knowledge and understanding about the big picture. Understand where they are, meet them there and help them zoom out of their day-to-day world to see the big picture.
Create a dialogue about the big picture, rather than simply downloading information to your team. Allow them to process what you are sharing, ask questions, and learn from you and from each other. This will deepen their understanding and also their retention of what you share.
Individuals who can see the bigger picture make better decisions because they understand not just what they are doing, but why they are doing it. When this happens it affords individuals the chance to make a much bigger impact. And when people feel they are a part of something big, they are much more engaged in it, connected to it, and can’t help but give it their best.
#2: Inspire Purpose
Think about the best work team you were ever part of – what did that feel like? Chances are, you felt an innate sense of belonging. You knew what you were working toward, what was at stake, and what was possible. At your core you believed in it. You pushed yourself and others around you to reach the team’s goals. It wasn’t just business – to you, it was personal. Great managers create a common connection through a vivid and well-articulated goal and share it like a story. The power of the team story is that it has emotional appeal. It describes not only what the team does, but also why it matters and why the team is uniquely positioned to get it done. To inspire purpose within your team, rely on these tips for telling a great team story:
Keep it simple
Great managers use simple, emotive words – not dry, business-speak that isn’t likely to stick. Don’t get caught in this trap!
Great managers make every point they say matter.
Great managers tell the story and see if it sticks. If so, they will see the interest in the team’s eyes and most importantly in their subsequent behaviors.Helping the team understand how their work affects the company will motivate them to do their best.
#3: Connect Your People
Now it’s time for all the Calvins out there to help confirm that every person sees how their contributions make a difference to the business.Achieving this isn’t difficult but it does take commitment and rigor. Here’s a simple way to approach this responsibility:
Ask yourself two questions about every employee
Have one-on-one meetings with each team member
Share thoughts on how the work a specific individual contributes to the broader business goals. Every meeting is an opportunity for open dialogue and to reinforce the importance of that team member’s contribution.
Hold yourselves accountable
Hold yourselves accountable for what they’ve committed to doing (Q2 above) to make sure each person always knows how they contribute to the overall business success.
Remember… none of this is one-and-done. You can’t just simply check these things off your to-do list. These conversations need to happen consistently over time to make sure everyone continues on the path to success.