We have a tendency to treat people in a way that suits our style rather than in a way that brings out their best effort. As leaders it may be the easiest way for us to act; but it does not necessarily develop productive individuals. Exercising control, for instance, may satisfy your needs but frustrate team members. Go back to basics and leverage the power of the Platinum Rule:
- Get to know the members of your team. Understand what motivates them and how they like to be treated. Discern where your styles conflict. If you process information quickly and expect immediate answers does this cause stress for those who are more analytical and require time to consider requests?
- Set clear expectations with individuals about how you will communicate. Establish frequency, type, and method. If your expectations are not being met, first ask yourself if they were clear.
- Be authentic. Remain true to your values. Adapt your style when necessary. Let others get to know what you value.
- Accept others for who they are and the skills they offer. When you need help, ask and always offer recognition for those skills.
- Listen to others and allow them to share their viewpoints. People feel valued when they are heard. You don’t have to agree with all their ideas.
- Reframe your thinking when you feel negative or frustrated. Look for opportunities to turn the situation around.
- Provide regular positive feedback about performance. Give accolades when appropriate. Look for instances when people are doing right. Provide guidance for enhancement. Show appreciation for the effort that individuals are making.
- Keep commitments. Make sure that you meet all deadlines for others and communicate well in advance if you will fall short.
Many professions insist that practitioners regularly “go back to basics”. Commercial pilots, for example, retrain every six months. Yet leaders are often promoted and then left to fly alone.
If you are in a position of leadership use the checklist to evaluate how you are doing. Ask your team for input about what would make a difference to the working relationship. It may be useful to engage an external professional to conduct a 360 Assessment, especially if you are not confident that your team will be honest with you. Once completed, this exercise provides you with valuable direction for your professional development. A coach can be helpful to assist you in moving forward with this.
Ultimately, if you treat people as they would like to be treated it will enhance your team’s productivity.