Getting teams to work well is a bit of a science. Instead of overcomplicating it, perhaps we need to shift our thoughts from metrics and performance to focus on the environment we work in and how we can support growth and innovation.
I am currently trying to grow some tomatoes. It’s not really working out. They are struggling on, but whatever I do seems to just make things worse for them. I did have them in the kitchen on the windowsill, then I moved them outside and put them on a shelf. Now they are on the ground in the driveway.
These tomato plants have huge potential. They should grow big and strong, making me something to eat and hopefully give me some self-respect in the process. However, at the moment that potential is dormant. The truth is that the tomatoes know what’s best for them and my management style is killing them. If I had provided them with the climate they needed to grow in, they would have done the rest themselves, with very little input from me.
In many businesses that we work with, we see leaders spend lots of time and effort trying to improve the way that their teams perform – but they are forgetting that it is the people in those teams that have the answers they to achieve the results they desire.
We must understand that if we can just give our teams the right climate to grow in, they would flourish. When done right, this climate helps teams start delivering and has a great by-product of self respect too. A happier team is a team that is more productive, so we all win.
So, how do we create this climate? Firstly, leaders and managers need to see themselves primarily as impediment removers. They should set high, but attainable expectations then work for their teams to help them achieve them.
There are lots of ways to do this, but we can start by giving teams opportunities and help them realise them. We can afford teams the freedom of creativity, then support them in exploring & innovating.
The difference between people and my tomatoes is that my tomatoes can’t talk to me. If they could, I’d listen to them so I have a better chance to help them by creating the conditions in which they need to grow.