One of my clients recently struggled with a leadership dilemma: Her high performers energized her, while the team members who need more development — and thus more of her time — often left her drained. If her situation rings true for you, here are three ideas to help you guide your team’s growth while managing other priorities as well.
Notice Your Energy
On any team, some people will take more of your time and energy. How does spending time with them affect you? And how does it affect the way you engage with the rest of your team? Based on what you notice from your answers to these questions, proactively plan energizing activities or interactions right after draining situations. Remember that the quality of the activity matters more than the quantity of time you spend doing it, so it can be quick.
Acknowledge and appreciate what each team member is doing right. We often take for granted that people know what’s working and focus our feedback on what should change, but your team needs to hear what they’re doing well so that they know to keep doing it. Be specific. Just saying “You’re doing a good job” doesn’t provide much useful information. And be prompt. Take a minute to pull your team member aside after a meeting or conference call to review what she did well. I also have clients who carve out a few minutes each week to send emails acknowledging good work. Quick tactics like these will give you energy while maximizing your team members’ strengths.
Cultivate the Right Mindset
When working with the team members who require more of your energy, go in with a mindset of acceptance: They are who they are. What’s the best way to engage with them? And do you need to set any boundaries? Of course, you’re focused on helping the team member succeed, but also think about what you need in order to participate in a positive way. For example, I have a client who often lets feedback conversations drag on too long. And that has turned into reluctance to initiate this kind of conversation, even when it is important. By simply setting some time limits for these conversations, he changed his whole energy around these interactions.
This week, identify which of these strategies you will put into play. And remember that small steps can lead to big results.