09 November 2022 |

Does your team know what is expected of them?


“Why do I have to do everything around here?”

Ever caught yourself saying or thinking this phrase? It’s not uncommon.

You hire people. Pay them well and you need them to do their job. But things get missed, and you start regretting your decision not to be a micromanager.

When it comes to delegating and developing, clarity is king, and the uncertainty kills momentum. Unfortunately, clarity doesn’t happen in an organization because it is a difficult and, sometimes, time-consuming process.

Here are three things to clarify for your team:

  1. Tasks they own
  2. Problems they need to solve
  3. Skills they need to develop

Keep things simple when delegating tasks. Make sure it is clear, Who is going to do What by When. You need to know this, and everyone involved in the project should know this. When leaders announce to a group that a task needs to be done without defining a clear owner, things get confusing. You hope and assume someone will step up. (This approach leads to the same people stepping up for every task or nobody stepping up and the job not getting completed.)

Giving your team problems to solve is a great way to invest in their development and invite collaboration and encourage your team to find new ways to use their strengths. You can do this by posing a question in a 1:1. “Mark, our customer retention dropped 3% last quarter. I’d love for you to give me insights on how we can get ahead of this. Can you bring a few ideas to our next 1:1?” Teach your team to be problem solvers.

And finally, skills to develop. 

87% of millennials say professional growth and career development are very important.

Here is what I would do. First, buy a copy of For Your Improvement. This book contains a list of over 100 focused skills, including action items on things to do to improve. As a team, pick the most important skills related to your business. Then start eliminating until you have seven priorities.

Next, take time, or hire someone to help you define what these competencies should look like at every level of your organization. For example, what does clear communication look like in a customer-facing role vs. an executive role? 

Teach your managers to coach to the competencies and create development plans with their direct reports.

Having defined skills will give your team a common language to use as you help people grow and invest in their long-term success.

The stories we tell about ourselves end up coming true.

“I don’t have enough experience.”

“I’m not the right person to lead this team.”

“There is no way we will recover from this.”

“Something is wrong with me.”

Ryan Holiday’s book The Obstacle is the Way provides a framework all leaders should understand as they face adversity.

  • Perception: How we see the problem
  • Action: How we address the problem
  • Will: Our resilience in attacking the problem

Being aware of your mindset is crucial because it directly impacts how we approach a problem.

If we feel like a problem is impossible, and no matter what we do, we will fail, and we won’t be committed to finding a solution. 

Why work hard when the result will be a failure?

This is why I love this message from Susan David, author of the book Emotional Agility.

The thoughts we have don’t define us. They are just thoughts. 

It only has as much power as you decide to give it.

As a leader, you need to be aware of the thoughts you are having about yourself and the people around you.

If you think your team is hopeless, you will act like they are hopeless. This leads to a lack of urgency in providing feedback, micromanaging, and no focused development for your team. 

When you change your perspective about the team and start focusing on the value they bring, it is much easier to bring out the best in people. When we start talking about the value they bring to the team, it’s much easier for them to start seeing their own potential. 

Your thoughts only have the power you give them. So take time to be aware of where they are leading you.