Give your team control to maximise their performance

Help your team maximise their performance.

Help your team maximise their performance.

Following on from my our last discussion of self-responsibility – the more control people think they have in any situation, the more engaged and positive they will be. This has been shown to lead to a greater mind-set for high performance. Because let’s face it, there is at least a little control freak in most of us.

It will also have the win-win impact of freeing up your time. If you don’t give your team control to make decisions they will constantly feel the need to run everything by you, which can take up more of your time than really necessary.

So here are some tips to give more control to your team to increase everyone’s productivity……..

1) Let the team work as close to their natural pace as possible

We’ve discussed this in previous blogs and I can’t stress how much this impacts productivity and performance. By allowing fast paced people to jump around between tasks, and by keeping interruptions to a minimum for slower paced people, everyone will get through their to-do list more quickly. It will also feel easier which allows them to leave the office in the afternoon feeling ready for life rather than exhausted.

2) Teach people to manage their energy rather than their time

When people manage their energy rather than their time, things also feel easier. This also keeps “bad stress” down and gives a feeling of control back to people. And if you as the leader aren’t managing your energy instead of your time, your weaknesses in productivity will be compounded to your team.

So help your team to categorise their tasks as “heavy, medium and light” and move between tasks depending on how their energy is at the time. And of course if you manage fast paced people, encourage them to break down their heavy tasks into smaller bite-size chunks. They are more likely to procrastinate if they see the task as one big energy-draining task instead of a few smaller ones that can be done at different times.

You will find that deadlines become a thing of the past as tasks will get done way before they are due.

3) Give your team “enough rope to hang themselves”

Your role as a leader is to back your team. So let them make decisions and give them the tools to make good decisions. Sometimes they won’t make the decision you think is right but they may get a good learning experience from of the situation which will help everyone for next time.

Often it’s good to think about how bad is the potential downside of making the wrong decision versus what is the potential upside of the learning experience. If a lesson is learned by making the small mistake then let them make the mistake and figure it out for themselves.

4) Give them control of internal meetings

Many advisers find that internal meetings can be time consuming especially when there is preparation involved. Often it’s a great opportunity to empower staff to co-ordinate much of the preparation including setting the agenda and also chairing the meeting. They will increase their productivity in other areas by feeling more in control and you will have less on your to-do list.

5) Give them control of performance appraisals

Often people take a back seat in performance appraisal discussions leaving the leaders to feel as though they need to be coming up with the ideas for the career progression of others. Try taking the approach that the career progression is the responsibility of every individual in the business and not just the leader.

So staff should never be giving any “energy credits’ to not being happy about their career development if they haven’t been pro-active about coming forward with ways they can “step up” to help the leader and the business, and obviously utilize their strengths in the process.

6) Leaders should ask questions instead of provide answers to give the team more control

And another follow on from the last blog on self-responsibility is to make sure that people have been given the control to come up with the solutions to any issues, rather than just the problems themselves.

One of the best ways to do this is to ask questions rather than jump in and answer every question that is asked. Even a question from the leader like “What do you think we should do?” will start to break their habit of coming to you for solutions. When they know they will probably have a question thrown back at them they are more likely to think through options for solutions before they come to you.

An interesting exercise is to try to go for a week with only asking questions and not providing any answers. It will certainly feel clunky and quite frankly a little frustrating, but it will bring awareness to how often you provide answers instead of helping other people to think of their own solutions.

A closing note:

Trust is needed when you consider the concept of handing over control. Even if you find that difficult to do, you may just need to jump in and behave as though you trust everyone in your business to be able to “step up”. You will generally find that people will surprise you to the positive.

And remember, people may not do it exactly the way you do it or anywhere near as well as what you do it but consider the long-term benefits of additional productivity and engagement that will be gained for you and your business.

So go ahead and harness your inner control freak and capitalize on the inner control freak of others who work with you.

Vanessa Bennett is the CEO of Inside 80 Performance in Australia. She helps leaders and teams achieve sustainable high performance.

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