Employees want to add value… so let them!

Is your team clear on what they need to do and why? And if not, how do you think that’s impacting your bottom line? Maybe it’s time to wipe the canvas clean, assess current-state versus desired-state and get everyone on the same page.  

Many times I’ve come across teams or people doing tasks simply because they were asked to (sometimes years ago!) and no one has told them the task is no longer required so of course they keep doing it.

It’s a pretty safe bet that you can think of an instance like this… maybe a report gets manually entered, generated or printed – but the data, process or outcome has changed over time and it’s no longer adding value or needs to be updated to truly be meaningful.

Or maybe a role in your team remains only because the person occupying the role is a valued member of the team and you don’t want to lose them… even though the tasks they complete, no matter how competently, are getting surpassed by technological advances or other change initiatives.

Guess what… employees want to be adding value! They strive to do a good job and produce meaningful work. If they’re not adding the value you think they could be – maybe it’s time for a clarity session. Going back to the drawing board and identifying expectations, accountability, change management, and aligning to the bigger picture – your company’s strategy, mission and purpose.

This is NOT about finding cost synergies and downsizing, making people ‘do more with less’. This is about going through an important exercise in order to increase productivity, efficiency and engagement. It’s about identifying and playing to people’s strengths – setting people (and the team) up to succeed.

By having clarity around their role in a team and ultimately the organisation – your employees can be empowered, proactive and assess if what they’re doing is actually adding value. So let’s embrace a continuous improvement mentality … as a manager you can have a go at this yourself, or you can get someone (cough, cough, maybe me) in to run the sessions from a non-biased perspective.

Initiating a discussion is a good way to get the ball rolling. But it needs structure and guidance if it’s going to be successful. I’ve got a number of tools and templates to guide this process and keep it on track. Also, you can focus on your job as a leader, as well as being a willing participant (this can be a time-consuming process if you’re not familiar with it). 

A clarity coaching session guides you and your team through a people-friendly approach to establishing or restructuring tasks, roles or functions. It can (and should) be delivered in a non-confrontational, non-threatening manner and focuses on growth, development and contributing to the achievement of the team and organisations’ wider strategy.

See how this could be of benefit to you and your team? Connect today to find out more.

Put the spoon down

Helping others develop and grow is an important part of being an effective leader. The type of support and direction individuals’ need will vary depending on the situation.

One thing that won’t change … let them do the thinking (and the talking) … don’t spoon-feed them.

Insights or ‘ahha’ moments tend to occur when we’re not thinking about the problem directly. Doing something repetitive (like driving), or that we are good at or enjoy (like cooking), frees up our cognitive resources to find answers to things that have been puzzling us. It also quietens our brain so we actually notice these new connections and combines existing data in new ways.

So insights are really very useful, they:

  • Are required to progress or solve complex problems.
  • Are more memorable than linear solutions (at the moment of insight, feel-good neurochemicals are released that help embed this new connection).
  • Generate a deep sense of engagement and ownership (we become very attached to our new way of thinking).

Therefore it’s important to facilitate insights, try not to always give answers.

At any opportunity, ask questions that bring about reflection, create self-awareness and generate a greater sense of responsibility. These are HOW questions, not WHY questions with a deliberate focus on solutions rather than problems.

To increase the chances of facilitating insight:

  • Provide quiet moments, don’t expect your team to go at 100km an hour all the time, staring off into space can be very productive.
  • Encourage your team to look inward, pause and reflect.
  • Limit threat and create positive emotion (think of their SCARF drivers/triggers).
  • Reduce conscious attempts to solve the problem, don’t sit in front of the whiteboard, marker poised until the answer presents itself – because it probably won’t.

Can you recall a time when someone has facilitated an insight for you? Asked you particular questions or just gave you the space needed to think outside the proverbial square? There’s nothing quite like that rush you get when you can finally grasp that elusive ‘AHHA!’. It can be a powerful motivator and spike productivity too.