Know your team
I have undertaken a plethora of psychometric tests over the years. Most of which have been very insightful and many years ago I was introduced to the concept of StrengthsFinder by a former colleague.
The test is easy to do, it is not expensive, you can buy the book for around £10, and the results are very powerful. From this you get to understand people’s natural talents.
The philosophy of the book is that you utilise your team based on what they are best at, rather than focus on their weaknesses.
An analogy is that Gareth Southgate would not be very popular if he said to Harry Kane: “You know Harry, you are a great finisher, but you are a terrible tackler. Therefore, I am going to play you in defence for a while so you can get better at tackling.” The outcome would be that Harry would fail and the team would lose.
However, if Southgate said: “You’re a great finisher so I’m going to make sure you are in the right areas of the pitch so you can score more goals,” that would be more motivational for the striker and prove more effective for the team.
So, my first tip is – get to know the individual strengths of your team.
You also need to recognise your own talents and, as importantly, your weaknesses, then build a team which can offset these.
One of my strengths is that I am what is called a maximiser, in that I want to take something good and make it better. I have learned to harness this to drive teams forward. I am also strong in creative thinking and using ideas to empower teams. So, get to know your own strengths and use them to lead.
You should also hold a mirror up and find out how you currently manage people. No one ever does this perfectly, as we are all human and have good and bad days. Think about what you do well and not so well. Be brave and ask for feedback.
Another tip is to think about people you have worked for in the past. Write down what they were good at and not so good at, in terms of leadership. Copy what they were good at, if it aligns with your strengths and personality, and do the opposite of what they weren’t so good at.
Know how to motivate
There are a number of scholarly reports on what motivates people. I would always focus on very old school stuff: recognition and responsibility. These are two basic, but effective forms of motivation.
When people do a good job, tell them; too many bosses only give feedback when it is negative. A good old-fashioned pat on the back does wonders.
Most people also thrive on responsibility. Without this you have a lack of accountability and a blame culture. Give people the freedom to excel in their jobs.
Make sure people understand what their job is, how it fits into the bigger picture and its importance.
Give them clear goals. Be a boss that listens, develops people, is available and gives feedback. Make sure your people know what they are good at and feel valued at all times. Communicate often and give updates.
One thing to add here, I read some research a few years back which said something along the lines of – the work itself is twice as important as someone’s manager when it comes to motivation.
Therefore, the priority is to ensure that any role is matched to the employee’s strengths and they have the freedom to work towards their goals – which is a strong message to close on.