A good team leader fosters a positive work environment, gets the most productivity out of team members, and gets all projects in on time. Team members are happy to work for this person, and can’t wait to come to work and do what they love the most. Does this sound like you and your workplace? Chances are, it doesn’t. Here are 10 tips that every team leader can do to help close the gap.
Praise publicly and often
It’s easy to point out when something goes bad, but it’s even more important to point out what goes right. Reinforcing good behavior will get a lot more mileage than criticizing bad. Well-timed praise can make someone’s day and make them feel even more motivated to do their job.
Don’t let negativity build up
When someone does something that’s not in line with what you want, make sure to tell them right away. Make those coaching moments fast and concise, and begin and end on a positive note. If someone only needs to remember one point of correction, it’s much more likely that they’ll remember and act on the advice.
Make criticism constructive and private
Everyone needs a little coaching now and then. Pick your moment, and make sure it’s a one-on-one conversation with the person involved to offer constructive criticism. Criticizing publicly will often leave someone humiliated and insulted, and unlikely to have learned anything constructive.
Communicate clearly and frequently, but briefly
Speaking of little coaching moments, opt for fast exchanges of information once a day – or as needed – instead of long drawn-out meetings. An hour-long business meeting every week is likely to interrupt the work day, bore the team members, and not actually accomplish anything.
Discover individual strengths
Everyone is good at something. The best thing you can do as a team leader is find out what that means for each individual as quickly as you can, and find a way to play to those strengths. If strengths overlap significantly, then you may not have an efficient mix in your team.
Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole
You may feel like you’re doing your team members a favor by giving them an opportunity to work in their weak areas. Unless they specifically ask for it, you’re not. People are often worst at the things they aren’t interested in doing, or plain don’t like. By trying to force someone into their weak areas, all you’re going to do is make them hate their job.
Get everyone invested in each project’s success
Part of the fun of being in a team is getting to share in the successes. Even if it’s something like a celebratory dinner or drinks after work, make sure there’s some incentive for successfully completing a project. If everyone gets to enjoy the payoff, then everyone will be that much more eager to get the next win.
Accommodate team members’ life priorities
It’s impossible to truly dedicate yourself to work if something isn’t going right at home. Figure out what’s most important to your team members that isn’t related to their work, and see how you might be able to accommodate those priorities. Maybe one person needs to start their shift an hour later because of daycare or ride share availability, or another needs to pay medical expenses that aren’t covered by their health insurance. You may not be able to directly solve any problems, but you can at least try to ensure that work doesn’t get in the way. Like it or not, hardly anyone truly makes work their top priority.
Determine the best type of compensation for each individual
While no one will ever say no to a bigger paycheck, raises aren’t always the best form of compensation. What do your team members want to accomplish in life, and what truly drives them to excel? Maybe recognition is more important than a raise, or the opportunity for extra education is more important than profit sharing. When you know what each person wants the most, you can offer them something that other jobs can’t.
Create a fun, dynamic workplace
There’s an old saying that says, “Work isn’t supposed to be fun. If it was, it wouldn’t be called ‘work.'” Maybe that’s a good way to drag yourself into the time clock on a bad day, but it’s a horrible myth that won’t get you anywhere with quality team members. Make it easy to collaborate on projects, to brainstorm and use individual creativity. Don’t be afraid to add an element of sport, novelty, or just plain ridiculousness to the average work day. When people have fun and enjoy coming to work, they’ll actually show up when they’re scheduled and get something done.
In the past, the popular belief was that if you pay someone enough, they’ll work hard for you no matter what. Workplace studies show that that’s no longer the case, if indeed it ever was. If you want to find and keep good people, you have to be able to speak to more than just their wallet. Create an environment that makes them feel fulfilled as a person and lets them take care of their family obligations, and you really will get the best they have to offer.