Ask two questions to be a great team leader
In a recent 19 country research study, ADP Research Institute surveyed almost 20,000 people regarding teams. Here is what they found:
- 83% of respondents stated that they are on a team
- 64% of those folks said they are on more than one team
- 75% of those folks say that the team they are on is not reflected in the org chart anywhere! (That may be worth reading again.)
For example, Ashley Goodall, co-author with Marcus Buckingham, Nine Lies about Work states that Cisco has 17,000 different teams across the organization. Mind-boggling!
Two high-impact engagement factors are:
- Am I on a team? (If so, the average engagement factor increases two-fold)
- Does my team leader pay attention to me and do I trust my team leader? That is, do I feel psychologically safe? (Employees who trusted their team leader were 12 times more likely to be fully engaged in their work)
Why is this critical?
Since most work is done by teams and many teams are not represented on the org chart, we must create great team leaders and by extension great teams. If not, we are leading using a dimly lit candle from the center of a dark room and we are not sure how big the room is nor how many other rooms there are. (No wonder this is so hard!)
Here are three important behaviors to exhibit to be a great team leader:
- Be predictable – Action: Clarify your values and vision; Always tell the truth
- Help people to find meaning – Action: Share Core Purpose; Learn how to tell stories…tell them often.
- Pay attention to your team (i.e., Gather intelligence; Offer course corrections when necessary) – Action: Check in every week
The Weekly 1:1 Check-in – High Impact Activity
Per #3 above, one way to be a great team leader is to have a weekly 1:1 check-in meeting with each of your team members. This is a 5-15 minute meeting that consists of two questions:
- What are your priorities this week?
- How can I help?
The power of positive attention from the Weekly 1:1 Check-in. ADP’s findings are:
- Positive attention is 30X more effective than negative attention (focused on what the team member does wrong) and,
- 1200X more effective than no attention. In creating a high performing team.
Why is this powerful?
- Attention is paid regularly. People crave and feed off attention. Frequency trumps quality.
- Attention is on the team member, not on the team leader. This says, “You matter. I am here for you” – reinforcing value.
- Quarterly priorities risks are addressed early.
- Primary focus is on the positive versus the negative (see ADP’s findings above).
- If it makes sense to go course correct re: quarterly priorities, you can adjust sooner rather than later.
- You are passing on your wisdom, experience and likely some skills to each of your team members. This has two benefits, the overall team becomes stronger, and you spend more time on higher value items like helping to predict the future.
If you say, “Bill, this is all well and good, but I am so busy and have too many people on my team to do this”. To that, I say,
“1. That is right, if you do not have time to do this, you definitely have too many team members on your team, and,
2. Food for thought – The lack of these check-ins done this way may be the main reason why you are too busy.”
If you lead a team, I recommend strongly that you try this for a month. Do not ask any more than the two questions and see what impact it has on the team. Let me know how it goes.
For more on the topic of the importance of teams, watch this video from Marcus Buckingham. If you find that video compelling, check out the corresponding website about Nine Lies and join me in the Freethinking Leader’s Coalition.
P.S. If you want to survey your team re: engagement level, please see my previous post for a survey created by ADP and Buckingham. If you get low scores, please feel free to reach out. I will see what I can do to help.
Bill – Multi-certified Growth Coach, Foundations in NeuroLeadership certified, Predictive Index Certified Partner
MA COMPANIES ONLY – Ask me how your state may help pay for my leadership coaching services. For MA companies, click here to see if you qualify for 50% (or more) off my fees and this workshop.