Regular readers of this blog will know that I tend to think in shapes or metaphors. But this blog is different. I’ve got my serious face on, because this one’s about getting the best out of your team.
I’ve always been suspicious of anyone who says they can characterise their management style in just a sentence or two. That’s a horrible interview question, by the way, for that reason. Surely it depends on the person you’re managing? What should you do to get the best out of them?
Following the matrix, there are two key factors to consider:
- Skills – this is about abilities, much of which can be learned or improved through training and experience, as well as of course learning from colleagues. Do they have the technical skills needed to work effectively for your organisation?
- Will – this isn’t particularly about the number of hours they work, although nipping off for a four hour lunch break might indicate a lack of it. No, it’s more to do with keenness, interest, or a readiness to learn. Is there a spark of excitement about the work they’re doing? If you work for a charity, do they have a passion for the cause they’re representing?
Can we all agree that ideally each person you manage would be moving towards high skills? And that high motivation is preferable, whatever their skill level?
So, how should you manage people when these two variables, erm, vary?
So let’s start with the worst scenario: their skill is low and their will is low. What feedback do they need? Should you check in with them more regularly and especially at the beginning of projects? What training do they need? What would motivate them? Do they need more supervision or performance management?
If their skill is low, but their will is high, what guidance or training do they need? How can they best be coached? What advice do they need?
If their skill is high, but their will is low, how can you excite them? Can you convey why their work is important and why they’re the best person to do it? What incentives do they need? Do they need mentoring?
And finally, they’re good at their job and highly motivated. Happy days! Can you involve them in more decision making? How can you stretch them more so that the work remains interesting and exciting to them? What autonomy, responsibility or authority can you give them?
Remember that everyone needs praise and recognition for things they’ve done well. And remember also that people can move between boxes at any point. This is just a model, a helpful guide.
And no, I didn’t say you should put people in boxes. At least not ones you can’t help them get out of.