Want to know how to get the most out of your team’s performance? Well, keep reading to discover the 3 most effective ways to unlock your team’s potential and how you can become a better leader, boss, mentor, and coach in the process.
Spoiler alert – these habits to becoming a better leader aren’t the easiest to master, and they can go directly against your hardwired programming. Sometimes it’s about training your team to use the resources they have at their disposal – think of documented systems and processes (the “Operating System/Knowledge Base”) to access before coming to you for help. Sometimes it might mean not jumping straight in and offering advice instead of entrusting your team to be able to figure things out for themselves.
Okay, now that you have some idea of what we touch on in this article, let’s get to it.
1. Get Clear On How You Should Help
The first essential habit to unlocking your team’s full potential is to stop trying to fix everything. Instead, get clear on how you should help, how your team needs you to help, not how you think you should help. This is an incredibly difficult task to break for so many leaders, especially if you own the business. Entrepreneurs and helpful people alike are hardwired to get it done. This is rooted in self-reliance, and it’s a major drawback when it comes to unlocking your team’s potential.
Doing things for your team is a surefire way to ensure that they learn just about nothing. Everyone learns differently, but almost no one learns by having things done for them.
The next time a member of your team comes to you for help, take a step back, and before you answer their questions, ask a few of your own. For starters, you should ask them to state the problem clearly. Not “how do I do this,” or “I don’t know how to do this, please help.” Instead, ask them for information on the specific problem they are experiencing, such as “I know how to x on y platform, but I can’t seem to create z results.” This information lets you know exactly what problem they are experiencing, which will help you give the best possible feedback that doesn’t equate to solving the problem for them and allows for a teaching moment instead of a controlling action.
Create a Knowledge Base To Answer FAQ’s
One way you can help your team is to give them the tools they need to help themselves. One of the best ways to do this is to create an online Operations Manual/Knowledge base – we call this a Business Operating System or BOS for short. The BOS is an internal knowledge base that helps your team to organise the company’s knowledge and answer frequently asked questions. A BOS should also include Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as well as other vital information like your “how to’s”, who to contact first should there be a problem (doesn’t have to be you), and any expectations and standard that are to be followed.
Wondering how to systemise your business? There are a few different starting points when it comes to systemising your business, and that will depend on your priorities and goals. An excellent place to start is getting your team involved and writing down everything and anything they feel they need to know to succeed in their roles. This exercise will be a great insight into what processes and training you have in place and what you need to create. You may some SOP chaos happening in your internal document folders; this is an opportunity to have a cleanout, remove any outdated documentation and start to build a database of knowledge that can be stored all in one place.
Not everything can be fixed with a system or process; often, a simple fix can result in a happier team, fewer complaints and fewer interruptions asking for help. A simple fix might be to have a clearly defined desk tray so that paperwork is placed in the right tray for processing, or it could that buying better office chairs means your team are more productive and comfortable.
If you have a natural “get it done” mentality, looking for the answer before asking for one may come naturally to you, but it isn’t how everyone operates. So be prepared to tell your team to look for the answer in your knowledge base when they come to you with questions that are easily found within their reach. This will help your team become more self-sufficient and independent, giving you more time to focus on your work.
Give your team the resources they need to do their best work.
2. Ask Before You Advise
Stemming from asking how you should help with habit one, comes the second essential habit to get the most out of your team – ask before you advise.
When your team comes to you for answers, first ask them what they think the answer should be. Don’t be surprised when you find out that sometimes they knew the answer all along; they just weren’t confident enough to execute. When the answer comes rolling off their tongue, and you confirm that they know the solution, they will be delightfully surprised, and their confidence will grow. Follow up this interaction with a nod of approval by telling them to trust their gut instinct and experience next time instead of coming to you for help.
Asking for your team’s feedback before offering advice also applies to questions that don’t have a clear right or wrong answer or one that can be found in your operations manual or knowledge base. For situations where there are multiple possible directions to go down, sit back and hear your team out as they verbally brainstorm. You might discover that they are thinking the right way, and all you need to do is agree and encourage them to carry out their ideas.
When you must give advice, give it in the form of multiple possibilities for your team to digest and think over. Allowing them to choose the best option instils confidence and independence and gives the opportunity for them to respond with an adapted idea of their own. Your team likely has some great ideas. Sometimes it just takes a little nurturing to tease them out.
The way to achieve your own success is to be willing to help somebody else get it first.
3. Let Them Figure It Out
The third essential leadership habit that will help you to unlock your team’s true potential is a combination of habits one and two. This is the habit of letting your team figure things out for themselves via teachable moments.
While the deep end can be scary, there’s no better way to learn how to swim than diving (or being pushed) right in. Likewise, there’s no better way to teach your team how to solve problems than assigning them tasks you know they can do and let them figure it out for themselves. There are really only two possible outcomes when you do this. The first one is they do it correctly and forever know how to do it right. The second one is that they do it wrong but learn how not to do it, and with some guidance from you, understand where they made a mistake and how to not make one in the future. Either way, your team is learning.
Letting your team learn through adversity not only instils confidence, but it teaches them in a way that shows them what they are capable of, that they can get it done even under pressure and with minimal guidance.
One important point to make about coaching through teachable moments is that the learning should not be confined solely to work tasks and goals. It should take place all the time, especially after meetings. You should end every meeting with the question – “What did you learn from this meeting today.” The answers you receive will let you know if you made your point if something needs to be clarified, and possible ideas on how to improve your business systems and processes.
“Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is more often helping them to learn rather than teaching them.”John Whitmore
That sums up this third habit perfectly.
So let’s recap.
By unlocking your team’s true potential, they can really shine, and the business owner is closer to reaching the goal of having a business that can run smoothly with or without them being there.
Habit 1 – Getting clear on how you can help
Habit 2 – Ask before you advise
Habit 3 – Let them figure it out
If you need help unlocking your team’s potential, setting up systems and getting your team to follow your systems and processes, get in touch with us today.