Since our last post, we have heard from a number of you that you loved the post on Personal Agility and have been struggling to become more agile in your life and work. Over the next few weeks, we are going to address some of the areas you identified as challenging.
Personal agility requires the ability to learn and to lead – to influence your world and be influenced by your world. For many of you, a central part of your work world is your team. Building effective relationships with each of your team members is important to your success yet can be difficult if you are used to doing things on your own and don’t consistently create opportunities for engagement and group success.
If you have the experience that either your team does not believe that you value them, or that your team has lost confidence in you, then consider connecting with each person individually to learn from them how you can show up more effectively. But before you do so:
Assess if You Value Your Team
It is important to begin by asking yourself if you really do value your team.
People value their teams for many reasons – because they are highly competent and effective, because you like them, because they are the only way to success, because they are relationally oriented and value all others, because the only way to get promoted is to be good at managing your team, etc. There are many reasons people value their teams and you need to be certain that you actually do value your team otherwise you will seem disingenuous – regardless of your words.
If you don’t value your team, then you need to determine if it’s time to step out of teamwork and become an individual contributor, or you need to look more closely at how you can start valuing your team. If you don’t value your team – for any of the above reasons (or the many we haven’t listed) then you will really struggle with turning the negative dynamics around . . . so pause and consider if you do, in fact, value your team.
And if you do then . . .
Request More Information
Identify the person on your team who you believe it will be easiest to have a conversation with first (you will need to do this with each of your team members but it makes sense to practice this process with someone who is comfortable for you) and write them an email to ask for additional input on the feedback you were given. An email gives them time to react, process their reaction, and respond, and it gives you the opportunity to say some things that might not get said if you brought this up in person.
The email needs to include:
- A request for feedback on your impact.
- A recognition and apology for creating an environment where they felt disrespected or unable to be successful.
- A request to meet with you so that you can hear 2 – 3 examples of times when they experienced your behavior as difficult and how you could have handled the situation in a way that would have left them feeling supported and valued.
- A recognition that meeting with you to discuss these things could be difficult for them and if they’d prefer, they could send you an email answering the questions.
Start the meeting by thanking them, again, for their willingness to participate in giving you feedback, apologizing for behaving in ways that left people on your team feeling insulted or disrespected, and sharing your belief that all of your success is interdependent and that you want to create an environment of collaboration and engagement so that “we all succeed!”
Ask that they give you 2 – 3 examples of times when they felt your behavior was difficult or unhelpful and then address how they would have wished you would have handled each one. Listen carefully, make notes, and nod your head. Do not explain, disagree or defend. You are there to learn.
If the conversation goes well, you were able to listen thoughtfully, and you see that they feel heard by you, ask them if they would be willing to give you feedback in real time going forward.
- Give them some suggestions on how to give you feedback, such as, in a meeting, they could say something like “I think we’re all in this together” to remind you to soften or, after the meeting, they can grab you for a few minutes to give you feedback, or if it would be easier they could send you an email.
- Let them know that you know it is a lot to ask that they be direct with you but if they can, you will really appreciate it and you are committed to not being harsh or curt going forward. You understand you have caused people pain and that is never your intention.
Afterwards, drop them a quick note or text saying something like “just wanted to thank you again.”
You must follow through on their input. Changing your behavior is the only way to demonstrate respect for each member of your team and providing the support and guidance needed to succeed.
Spend some time this week considering if there are people in your personal or professional life who have been hurt by your behavior, or have lost confidence in you, and if so, start the conversation.
If you haven’t bought one yet, our new book Claim Your Power: 52 weeks of coaching to claim your power, increase your impact & expand your influence is available on our website. In just 2 pages per week, you can pause to reflect on your goals, consider how you want to show up and you have an executive coach on each page.