Teams are unique and wonderful snowflakes
This title may seem like a facetious characteristics of teams, but leaders, ignore it at your peril. Diversity is the defining human characteristic that enabled us to conquer the globe over thousands of years and flourish. Every team you meet is composed of a set of individuals you’ve probably never interacted with, don’t know, and are different to who you’ve met before. Diverse ways of doing things is a characteristic of humanity that’s impossible to subdue.
If you ever think your team isn’t doing what you tell them to, 10:1, I think this is the reason. Applying a cookie cutter process never works. It’s an unfortunate cost of being a manager. Whatever you figured out for the last team, you’ll be able to save fragments, but you’ll need to adapt.
So, what’s the answer? I have a couple of tenets I hang on to:
- You can’t tell anybody to do anything, but you can show them the way.
- Be visionary and experiment. Have some creativity. You don’t know everything. Sometimes you just have to try and see.
- This is more a corollary of #2. If it’s not working, you don’t have traction. Probably best to adjust course.
- Listen carefully.
- The team knows the way. They are sophisticated adults dealing with complex problems. (This leads to the topic of another post, why are you even needed?)
This is to say, the only way you’ll get there is working with people, listening carefully, and remembering that change comes slowly, with time and in iterations. Be patient. Also, number 5 is my favourite. In the majority of problems I sort out with teams, after connecting the dots between people, getting everybody to talk, the solutions are usually obvious and don’t require any kind of consensus building.
Good managers are not directors, they’re guides, and you have to personalize your style for every different team.