4 New Year’s Resolutions for a Stronger Team

4 New Year's Resolutions for a Stronger Team

We’re a week into 2015. How about forgetting that resolution to work out every day and instead look at resolutions to help you build a stronger, more effective team?

These four resolutions can be the equivalent of hitting the gym for your team.

1. Give more feedback. If you’re like most managers, you don’t give nearly enough feedback to your staff members. Or you give plenty of positive feedback but don’t speak up quickly or clearly enough when you’d like people to do something differently (or just better). Or you might be the opposite of that, if you’re a manager who’s comfortable giving critical feedback but doesn’t give much praise for work well done.

But feedback is one of the most powerful tools managers have for getting results from their teams. In fact, just articulating the areas in which you’d like to see an employee improve or develop can go a surprisingly long way toward making that change happen. And of course, employees who don’t get alerted quickly when there are problems with their performance don’t get the opportunity to develop professionally – and bad habits are more likely to become ingrained. Or, when it’s positive feedback that’s lacking, people will often become demoralized and feel unappreciated, and that can show up in lower productivity and lower retention rates.

Resolve to make 2015 the year that you get serious about upping the feedback you give – on individual projects as well as overall. Make sure each staff member hears it when they’ve done well and knows when you wish they’d do something differently.

2. As a team, get ruthless about figuring out how you could perform better. In resolution #1, we covered you giving people more feedback to help them do better. This resolution is a different side of that; it’s about brainstorming as a group to figure that out at a team level.

As a manager, you probably have plenty of ideas about how your team can be doing better. But your roadmap will be far stronger if it contains input from everyone on your staff. So spend a few hours with your staff reflecting on what you want to achieve this year, what you might do differently to hit your goals out of the park, and what might get in the way of success. Give people the freedom to put everything on the table – are there strategies that aren’t working, policies or processes that are getting in the way of results, or whole new avenues you should be looking at?

People may have ideas or perspectives that never occurred to you – and plus, doing this will make staff members feel more invested in your team because they’ll feel that their input is meaningful and their voices have been heard.

3. Measure your own performance by your lowest performer. As a manager, you might be tempted to judge yourself by what your top performers achieve. But the real measure of a manager is how you handle your lowest performers. After all, they’re the ones who show what you’re willing to accept on her team, and whether you’re willing to take on problems head-on and hold people accountable, even when it means difficult conversations.

Make 2015 the year you get serious about tackling any performance challenges on your staff.

4. Get really serious about hiring well. The biggest thing you can do to influence what kind of work your team produces is to hire the right people in the first place. But if you’re like most managers, you’ve probably been guilty of rushing to fill a position so you don’t have a vacancy – and so you can stop spending time on hiring and get back to your real work. Of course, any time savings from that approach gets canceled out if you make the wrong hire … and even if the person you hire is okay, there’s a big opportunity cost attached to “okay” versus “extraordinary.”

In 2015, resolve to put a ton of energy into recruiting and screening candidates – especially including finding effective ways to test candidates’ skills and see them in action before making any hiring decision.

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