Every great manager should strive to unlock their team's full potential. Unfortunately, that's not necessarily an easy thing to do and it can get trickier the more your team grows. However, in this post, I hope to offer managers out there a few insights on some activities that will help you on your way.
1. Be honest about where you are
The temptation starting out is to look outside your organization for insights into how other high-performing companies work; however, it's important first to do an inventory of where you are and how things are either working or not working within your organization before further refinements are made. You'll find that by doing this, you'll uncover a lot of low-hanging fruit that has the highest impact into unleashing your team's full potential.
Some suggested activities include:
- Perform regular 1-on-1's with each direct report Why? Because you'll uncover common themes and problem areas amongst your people that most certainly need to be addressed. Focus on how you can help your people to be more successful. What's working... what isn't? Not everyone is going to be bold and share those things in a retrospective meeting (if you're having them), so these private conversations are your chance to make sure you uncover anything that needs attention. Also, know what motivates each person and what their career path aspirations are. The more your employees know you have their interests in mind, the more they'll want to put their best foot forward for you and the company.
- Review your team's processes, meeting schedules, etc and get rid of any that are cumbersome or not needed Why? Because high-performing people don't want a lot of process in their way. They want to get to their craft as soon as possible with as little effort spent in superfluous meetings and tools as possible. The trick here is arriving at the leanest set of processes and tools that provide enough direction for everyone to be on the same page while simultaneously providing enough visibility to stakeholders throughout the organization and to your customer base on what you are working on in as real-time as possible.
- Make sure your team has opportunities to learn and grow Why? Because the more your team members learn and add skills to their tool belts, the more they'll be able teach each other and collectively solve problems more effectively. At Volusion, we've instituted a 20% hack-time policy where team members can work on whatever they want to brush up on or learn new skills. These efforts will keep your people sharp and will open up opportunities for collaboration that wouldn't happen if everyone kept their heads down for too long.
Giving your team autonomy to solve how things are tackled really frees them up to be creative and innovative. It's important from a leader's perspective to make sure everyone knows what needs to be delivered, but not get too lost in the weeds solving how it is to be delivered. The level of involvement reviewing progresses and making sure work aligns to business objectives can ride the line between too frequent and not enough. If you err on the too frequent side, you'll make your people feel like monkeys, certainly not capable of operating at their full potential. If you err on not enough, it's likely that your team may veer off course when slight realignments would have saved a lot of time and resources.
With that being said, the focus should be on instilling the leanest management oversight to ensure things are progressing smoothly while empowering your team with a voice in not only how work is performed, but also what work is performed. You'll keep your people engaged and they'll be more vested along the way.
3. Celebrate along the way
As you move forward, it's important to celebrate wins. People inherently want to be recognized for going above and beyond and if you don't have mechanisms in place for these activities, you're missing something. This extends beyond individual recognition and into ways you can bring your team together to bond and celebrate together.
At Volusion, we have a monthly "Kickass Employee of the Month" award given to an employee nominated from each group for outstanding achievement. We also enjoy fun offsite activities each quarter. There are many other smaller activities we all can take part in throughout the year.
When people are recognized and given opportunities to celebrate and bond together outside of normal work hours, there is a significant positive impact to what happens as a team during the work day. Don't miss out on putting these activities into motion.
These are just a few suggestions to help your team reach their full potential. If you have the willingness to be open about where you are, are courageous enough to make necessary changes and focus on making sure your people are happy and productive, you’ll eventually unlock their full potential.
Good luck and have fun!