Picking up on your work team’s slack

So now you’ve done it: as a manager, you have hired on your newest team member and you are quite pleased with the hire. You begin the onboarding process to ensure everyone understands the role of the new hire, everyone is on the same page, and the new employee understands their short and long term objectives in order to achieve success.
Now let’s fast forward into the future – let’s say three years. Your commitment to this same team’s success and to the organization has been noticed by those around you. You have been commended for the ability to form a good team and to retain talent. You have coached your team along, supported them when they have wanted professional development, and celebrated in the successful implementation of several projects.
In fact, you have proven to yourself, that even when there were issues, when some team members may not have pulled their own weight or they needed assistance in some way, you have been there for them.
Where there have been gaps, you have stepped in by putting in the extra hours and have adapted your management style to ensure success. You have taken the burden of the team’s stress, so as to ensure those more senior to you and your peers see the cohesive team you have put together.
Is your team really the cohesive team you make it out to be? Let’s look back at the hires you have made… are they all where you need them to be, to ensure success today and into the future?
With your high emotional intelligence, you have prided yourself on reading, understanding, and adapting to your team members. You have shown patience when certain team members’ personal lives have encroached on their business life and you have picked up the slack.
Have you compromised your own personal growth for that of the team’s, or the organization’s – saying to yourself that is what good leaders do?
Even now, you think back to all of your hires, and you still believe in their potential the way you did when you hired them. Yes, there have been industry issues, and competitive pressures, and tight timelines, and for that reason, things have been tough. You have made it through and everyone seems to be doing well.
On paper, your team is doing very well! But are they really? You have been logging so many hours to meet objectives, and without letting anyone know, you are simply exhausted!
Perhaps when you look at your team, you do not see them for who they are today. You do not see the shortcomings as being ingrained traits that have been nurtured and adapted to, and may be missing that they are not what you need for the next phase of business.
We sometimes hear how, based on where an organization’s business cycle is at, a different style of leader is needed. One can argue that the same can be said at any level of the organization. Some team members are good with startup projects that are exciting and new and require creativity. However, when the environment moves into maintenance mode or a new direction is required, a different skillset, and hence, different team members may be needed.
Team members may not be able to change, and may be simply incapable of being what you want them to be or what you need them to be to address future objectives. It’s hard to admit, but the tried and true may not be right for the next step, and “filling in the blanks” yourself may not be the best approach.
Are you considering keeping certain members based on a sense of obligation to keep believing in their potential? Or is it out of a sense of guilt, that maybe you could have done more to prepare them for this next phase?
Ultimately, you have a role not as a manager but as a leader. A true leader will welcome the opportunity to reassess. A true leader recognizes that “filling in the blanks,” although easy to do, is not the way to go as it doesn’t empower your team but simply enables them to be less than their true potential. You’re a fixer – and they will let you fix.
Even though you’re so good at it, perhaps “filling in the blanks” is not the way to go. An organizational review objectively conducted will lead you to a better place, lead each team member to a better place, and ultimately lead the organization to a better future state.
In the end, everyone has a comfort zone, and it is easy to simply fall back into familiar roles, take on familiar tasks, and hope for success again – without any true sense of growth.
However, a new role or a new team may just be what is truly needed to experience exponential success!

Lisa Cefali is the vice president of executive search with Legacy Bowes where she uses her many years of competitive intelligence, recruitment and assessment of emotional intelligence experience to uncover those attributes that provide for the best organizational fit for her candidates and clients. Please feel free to contact her at lisa@legacybowes.com for your executive search and recruitment need.

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