When I see an organization or a team with rules that are not being followed, it usually reflects a weakness in leadership. Not just because the rules are not being followed, but because the rules exist in the first place. Unfortunately this is too common.
Rules are created to keep people safe, to provide guidance for actions, and prevent mistakes. In many cases broad rules are created in reaction to specific incidents.
For example, if an employee spills a beverage affecting their workplace, a rule may be created to prevent employees from drinking beverages. There may be locations in the workplace or types of work where the presence of beverages is not a potential accident, or using beverage containers with lids would be effective. Yet a rule is created covering the entire workplace.
This occurs because an ineffective leader views the new rule as the easiest to manage. A stronger leader would create a rule that supports the employees drinking beverages but at the same time protect the workplace. This rule would be more difficult to define and manage. But it also becomes a rule that people will actually follow.
Ineffective rules result in an unhappy workforce, or a workforce that ignores the rules. This is not an employee problem, it is a leadership problem.
As a leader, you must enforce the rules. If you don’t think the rule should be enforced, then work to change the rule.
All of this takes more effort. That is why we continue to see broad, ineffective rules in many workplaces and organizations. If you want effective rules, you need to be an effective leader.
Sometimes we are so busy, we forget to pay attention to the basics of teamwork. From my experience, here are three things you should be doing consistently and constantly to maintain a high-performance team.
1. Be transparent and explicit about expectations. When we get busy, we assume our team knows what to do and that they are busy also. The busier we get the less we communicate. If you want your team to be fully engaged, you must continuously communicate about the goals and their responsibilities. Being able to link an employee’s responsibility directly to a goal is powerful.
2. Provide feedback to individual team members at least weekly. We improve when we take time to reflect and adjust our actions. Your team is no different. Feedback will trigger reflection and help them improve. Work to provide feedback that is supportive and challenging.
3. Help your team achieve the goals. Be a part of the team. Do not isolate yourself as a leader. You can help with the required tasks or you can help by removing problems and roadblocks for others. Contribute as much as you ask others to contribute.
Even if you feel you are busy, these activities should be on your agenda. They seem very basic, but I have seen many times leaders that drift away from these basics. Try to boost your focus on these actions, and watch your team overachieve!
As a leader, defining organizational values and culture is part of your responsibility. How do you define values to your team? Do they understand the expectations of their work?
The controversy this week between the President and the NFL has captured many headlines. Reflecting on this issue, how do you feel leadership in the NFL has responded? As a leader, would you want your employees to publicly protest in their workplace? How steps would you take to resolve the issue?
I admit, I do not know enough to help negotiate through the NFL issue. But it is a great case study.
I believe that defining the culture and the values that you expect of your organization is the first step. The more difficult step is being a living example of the culture you define every single day. Isn’t it true that your leadership is tested the most, when you least expect it. Are you ready?
President Thomas Jefferson said, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” Keeping a positive attitude can be challenging in certain situations. Here are some lessons I have learned that help me.
1. Protect myself from negative attitudes that I encounter. If I am not careful, I find myself adjusting my attitude to those around me. Attitude is contagious after all. But when the surrounding attitude is negative, I must be strong enough to keep my positive attitude. I have two choices, allow my attitude to influence others, or leave the situation.
2. Focus on tomorrow’s possibilities rather than yesterday’s results. When I find my attitude slipping away from the positive, it is usually because I am too focused on what has happened rather than the opportunities of tomorrow. Walt Whitman said it best, “Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”
3. Learn more about myself. Carl Jung said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” When I find myself getting irritated, it affects my attitude. The aggravation however is within me, not with the other person. If I spend time understanding myself, then I am better prepared to turn negative situations into positive situations.
Another thing to consider when faced with differing attitudes. My attitude is mine. The attitudes of others are owned by them. I am not better, just because my attitude may be more positive at the moment. As Ziad K. Abdelnour said, “Don’t judge someone’s attitude until you’ve felt their pain.”