Thursday’s headlines: Team empowerment flashpoints and Innovation

‘Encourage your team with positive constructive feedback and public recognition, moving you and your firm further forwards’ Martin Sharp


Remember, as human beings, we were never designed to do things alone, we will always achieve more doing things together

— Martin Sharp

Maybe you are reading this in an airport lounge. Perhaps you are there drinking a coffee or nursing a beer and in this transitory space, waiting. It is in a very similar space that you find me and if you were with me in the KLM Crown Lounge in Schiphol airport in December 2018, you’d be sat at a high dark wood table on an equally high stool, covered in the familiar KLM blue faux leather, sipping mint tea while the throng of passengers move backwards and forwards between lines of tables and chairs of varying heights, colours and styles. The hum of a thousand conversation interwoven with the easy listening “music” crescendos occasionally, yet frequently, by the interruption of a public announcement rising over the dim in a crisp, clear authoritative voice or the crashing of cutlery & crockery.

Every so often you notice that there is mass action from a portion of occupants as they stand up in almost unison, put on their coats, collect their belongings and swarm out of the lounge in single file, one following another, with others joining from the left and right, like ants leaving their nest foraging for food. It takes you less time to realise that this is the boarding call for a flight than it did to read this paragraph. However, and here’s the thing, have you ever compared this behaviour to what could be happing in your business or department?

I work with business owners, managers and department heads, who like our departure lounge, find that their workforce, constantly need to be told what to do. When an instruction comes, up they stand with their tools of the trade in hand and off they go to do the task as instructed. Not coming up with ideas, not using initiative and not doing any more than was necessary. Maybe you know someone like this or you have people who fit this description working with you and you find you are the one taking on the stress of having to think of all the ideas and find yourself being pulled in so many different directions.

You might be thinking that I am talking about unmotivated, minimum wage labourers or agency staff, flitting from one job to the next. Endlessly searching for the panacea of high pay for no work. But the thing is, I see this same behaviour in many roles and industries, from banking to healthcare, manufacturing to transportation providers, councils to pharmaceuticals. Some of those involved in this drone mentality include Managers, Engineers, Technicians, Assistants and so on.

For me, the one group that I really dislike is when you hire in services from an organisation, claiming to be innovative, highly skilled in their subject area and experienced in moving your business forward, so long as you tell them what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Maybe it is me, but surely that is why you bring in the experts, to help advise and direct you in these things, right?

Perhaps you are now wondering “what can we do about it, so I’m not the one doing everything?”

So, picture this, you can sit and enjoy your cup of tea in the blissful knowledge that you won’t be disturbed because your team is able to take care of itself. Imagine if you weren’t the only one driving the business forward, coming up with the ideas, but you were getting thoughts, suggestions and action from each member of your team, who themselves are looking for simpler, easier and more effective ways to complete operational tasks and who are coming up with better, more exciting and innovative ways of serving your clients, leading to more revenue and retention.

Would you agree with me that this sounds like a much better place to be?

The good news is there are 7 positive actions you can take to move into this more constructive space and that you could take today to move towards a better place:

·        Entrust your team by delegating correctly, allowing them to grow, moving out of their comfort zone and into their learning zone so they can get into flow knowing what they are doing is meaningful and worthwhile.

·        Expectations need to be well defined, not at the level of micromanagement. Make sure they are outcome based with clear guiding principles and values.

·        Emancipate your team accepting that they may use different methods or take a different path to success and be happy about it.

·        Evaluate each member with constructive feedback. And no, that is not simply saying “good job” no one ever improved with feedback like “good job”. Your feedback needs to be positively set and given in the moment, illustrating what they have done well so that they can repeat it and what needs improvement, with clear guidelines, potentially examples on what the improvement should look like.

·        Endorse the ideas your team comes up with, after all this is what you started the process for, right? To create an environment whereby people are willing to share ideas, you must communicate the reasons why.  

·        Express your gratitude to keep the team feeling valued, motivated and appreciated, you must be generous with the thank-yous. Like feedback these must be timely, specific and clearly communicate how your values were met by the actions taken.

·        Esteem your team members publicly in recognition of a job well done!

So, will you seek to encourage your team with positive constructive feedback and public recognition, moving you and your firm further forwards?

And will you look to delegate with clear jointly agreed expectations allowing them autonomy to work leveraging their time, skills and experience for a fast and better solution?

Or will you continue to be torn apart and do it all yourself?

And remember as human beings were never designed to do things alone, we will always achieve more doing things together.

If you would like to know more, then get in touch.

Martin Sharp

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Martin Sharp
Martin Sharp

As an Author; Coach; Mentor; Consultant; Speaker; enterprise architect and strategic thinker, I believe in delivering successful change in complex environments and clarity to the most complex of my client issues. Navigating the complex and ever-changing IT landscape, I have been told I my pragmatic solutions deliver change and realise business benefit within every organisation, every time.