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Whether you are hiring your first employee or managing a team of 200, every manager wants to understand what motivates their team to give their best. Being a good people manager is one of your most critical business challenges.
So how do we get it right? We asked 8 well respected leaders what they’ve learned over their leadership journey. A common theme running through their advice, is connecting your team with a sense of purpose at work. Helping them see how their work makes a difference, how it contributes to your business’ mission and goals, is a key motivator.
Let’s dig a little deeper with 4 of those leaders, as they share their experiences on how they get the best from their team. For more great advice check out Part 1 of our blog series.
Fiona Whatley, General Manager – Springhill Farm
This is a question that I ask myself often, and one which I am still learning about. I have a belief that you spend a lot of time at work, and so you need to enjoy what you do. If you don’t, perhaps you’re not in the right role.
To really feel a part of a business, I think team members need to understand their role in the bigger picture. Sharing information within the organisation about our plans, success and failures is a great way of engaging our staff and ensuring everyone understands their role in helping us achieve our goal, of ensuring that everyone who enjoys a Springhill Farm product, has a great experience, every time. We also need to understand that everyone is different and the way that they like to be recognised also differs; some love the spotlight, others can’t stand it. So, ensuring that you tailor your communications with team members in a way that works for them is critical. And remember that at the end of the day, if you’re treating people as you would like to be treated, then you’re on the right track!
Allister Morrison, General Manager – Ballarat Real Estate
It is important that team members understand that we are invested in their personal career success. We want to discover what their goals and aspirations are so that together we can put in place a plan and a road map of how to get there. Team members who can appreciate that they are valued will inevitably prove to be key players within your organisation. Spending meaningful time with individual team members, one on one to review their progress is also critical. Genuine feedback on how their career is progressing will keep them on the right path to achieve the desired outcomes for both the employee and the organisation.
Tyrone McCuskey, Chief Executive Officer – McCallum Disability Services
I believe that in getting the very best out of staff you must have a shared sense of purpose.
In developing this purpose, you must try to engage employees’ hearts and minds, because if you can achieve that, employees will be so much more engaged in their work and the organisation.
This can be stimulated by understanding or uncovering something about an individual (i.e. a story about them or their life) which can be used to relate to the work they do, the organisation they work for or the industry/sector in which they work. If this proves too difficult an alternative is encouraging staff to take the perspective of the consumer of organisation’s services and help them empathise with the consumers position and develop a willingness to achieve/resolve the outcome/s sort.
Leaders who are willing to share personal stories with their teams and seek similar contributions from team members can benefit greatly from the increase in shared interest and connectedness. When we share our stories the essential elements of authenticity, emotionality, honesty and vulnerability lay the foundation for strong and ultimately more productive relationships.
Ange Connor, Director – Inspire HQ
Getting the best out of my team is all about setting them up for success.
Team members need to know what success looks like; for the business and for themselves personally. Success is more than just hitting targets, achieving KPI’s and being profitable. If team members are engaged in what they do on a deeper more meaningful level, if they have a sense of purpose and align with the why, in my experience they will strive that little bit harder for success. They won’t hesitate to take that after hours call from a client in need. They will willingly work additional hours to achieve that outcome within the deadline. They’ll push themselves outside their comfort zone to have that difficult conversation. Giving team members clarity on what success looks like is key.
Then it’s imperative to give them the tools they need to do their jobs well. By tools I don’t mean a phone and a computer. The tools are different for every team member and the leader needs to get to know and understand their team members well enough to understand what tools they need. By tools, I’m referring to: autonomy, responsibility, regular communication and support, being a sounding board, coaching and mentoring, regular and honest feedback, encouragement, belief, knowing when to push them outside their comfort zone. By ensuring my team members have access to these tools, it’s then up to me to get out of their way and let them get on with achieving success.
In my experience you get the best out of your people when you help them understand their area of genius and wherever possible you create opportunities for them to work in their area of genius. I get so much more out of my team when they play to their strengths. As a leader I see it as my responsibility to help my team identify and understand their strengths, enhance their self-awareness of their strengths and to help them develop and build on their strengths. When we understand our own strengths and our team members strengths, we enhance our ability to work collaboratively and achieve team goals not just our individual goals.
None of this can be achieved if I don’t know what is important to them. What satisfies, motivates and drives them personally and professionally. Only then can I truly get the best out of my team by tailoring my leadership style to suit their needs and by creating the right kind of opportunities and environments for them to thrive.
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Claire Huntington has over 15 years’ experience in senior and executive level human resource management and strategic leadership positions. Claire learnt HR under the wings of great mentors and through trial and error. She has a very practical hands-on approach to HR and management, and isn’t afraid to look outside the box. Claire is also mum to three primary-school aged firecrackers and is an avid photographer in her spare time.
Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.