Managers have had to navigate many changes as their teams adjust to working from home. While managing individuals has stayed relatively normal, making sure the whole team is optimized and still working together while physically apart is a bigger challenge than it was before. How can managers navigate the differences between managing individuals and managing teams in this new reality?
Steve King, author and instructor at the Wisconsin School of Business Center for Professional & Executive Development, recently explained in the webinar Optimizing Team Performance: Managing the Individual and Managing the Team what conversations managers need to be having with their teams to help them navigate some of the issues their teams are facing.
How We Manage Individuals
Since there are many similarities in the conversations, let’s begin by remembering Steve’s Six Conversations framework. The Six Conversations are a common denominator of conversations most employees genuinely want to have regularly with their manager as they wonder what’s next in their careers and how things are currently going for them. The best managers know how to facilitate these conversations to bring further productivity from their employees. For a full recap of the Six Conversations, you can check out Steve’s past webinar.
The Six Conversations
1. What is expected of me?
2. What and how should I develop?
3. How am I doing?
4. How did I do?
5. How will I be rewarded?
6. What is next for me?
These six questions also leave clues for team conversations managers need to have with the entire team they manage.
How We Manage Teams Like Individuals
Teams are extensions of the individuals you manage, so the team wants to have these conversations collectively with you too. Turning these questions around to have team conversations are just as meaningful and bring further clarity to how the team works together.
“What is expected of me?”, becomes “What is expected of us?”
Remember this question when you need to focus on team goals. Great teams want team goals set for them and as their manager you need to know how to set goals so they align with strategic organizational goals. It is up to you to create clarity for your team on what their collective and individual goals are and how they’ll contribute to the bigger picture. For more on team goal setting, watch our webinar Getting the Most from Your Team: Setting Individual and Team Goals.
“What and how should I develop?”, becomes “What and how should we develop?”
On some teams there are common skillsets, common knowledge, or common behaviors that the whole team must have and together they need to develop those skills too. Take a step back and ask yourself what those skillsets are and how can you make sure they are developing those together. It might be making sure they are all creating the same customer experience for everyone, or they’re building systems together. Whatever that looks like for your team, give them time to develop together.
“How am I doing?”, becomes “How are we doing?”
There needs to be a feedback mechanism for your team that allows them to hear collectively how they are doing. This might be a monthly all team meeting. As their leader, the team wants your feedback so what might that mechanism be for your team?
“How did I do?”, is now “How did we do?”
Similar to “how are we doing”, this is an after-action review moment for the team. Give them a collective performance review. Steve recommends doing this quarterly with your team, as well as following his Brag, Worry, Wonder, Bet framework but practicing it together as a team. As a group, what are you really proud of this quarter that you want to brag about? What are you betting on that you’ll all accomplish this quarter? For more about how to have Brag, Worry, Wonder, Bet conversations, you can check out our Preparing for Performance Reviews webinar.
“How will I be rewarded?”, turns into “How will we be rewarded”
Do you have a team rewards system? You should! If you’re operating as a team, the team should be rewarded together too. More often than not, rewards are on an individual basis even when the team largely operates together and you can find ways to reward them as a group.
The exception here from the Six Conversations is “what is next for me?” This is not as relevant in team conversation as teams don’t generally move through their careers together and this question is largely an individual career growth question. You can encourage your team to look forward to what they’re working on next, but in terms of what’s next for each of them there’s just no way to have that as a team.
Good managers know how to pivot the conversations they have with their individuals to apply them to their whole team. For even more on managing team structure, collaboration, talent management, team dynamics, getting the results you need, and so much more, we encourage you to watch the rest of the webinar.
If you’re interested in continuing to learn more about how to align the individuals on your team, we invite you to join us for Managing Teams Effectively (Online), an interactive online program that will help you clarify team processes.