Managing a team of people is always challenging. You want to lead people to accomplish a goal as a team. Yet, each team member has their own goals and priorities that may conflict with the team goal in some way.
One approach that can help in this situation is to have periodic one-on-one meetings with each member of the team. One-on-one meetings aren’t meant to be long, drawn out meetings. They shouldn’t exceed fifteen minutes. If they do, you’re probably wasting valuable time for both of you.
I like to schedule them on a recurring basis, either weekly or every two weeks. My goal is to get feedback from each person and to provide them feedback for areas where I think they need improvement.
I try to keep their goals in mind also. I ask them early on about their short-term and long-term goals. That allows me to let them know that I want them to succeed just as much as I want the team and the project to be a success. It’s not fair to expect them to focus on the team’s goals if I have no regard for their career goals.
If a team member’s goals turn out to be out of alignment with those I have for the team, I try to find some middle ground in order to achieve a win-win situation.
Success in the Short Term
When you focus on a team member’s short-term goals, you may want to find the common ground between their goals and the project. Asking questions like: What personal goals do you have for this project?
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You might be surprised by their answer. They may want to work on leading-edge technologies or have goals you never would have realized. This allows you to assign them to tasks that interest them more and might even add more value to the project.
The team member might also be surprised. Employees are often assigned to projects and simply put their time in. They don’t think about their personal growth on the project.
Asking them how the project can affect their personal growth may make them think about their goals and focus more on their personal achievements.
Once you’ve asked them and gotten them to think about it, the next level is ‘How is the progress?’ This makes them perform an assessment of their progress and provide feedback to you. If they feel they’re not accomplishing what they had hoped, you can help them with suggestions. If need be, you can ask them to be more patient through this phase of the project.
Long -term Success
It’s also good to ask questions like ‘How can this project help you achieve your career goals?’ This gets them thinking long-term. Short-term goals are good, but if you can get them thinking about how their involvement in the project can get them to the next milestone in their career, you may both be surprised by the answer.
Again, the follow up to this is ‘How is that going?’ Doing this in a regularly scheduled meeting allows them to assess their personal short-term and long-term progress and provide feedback to you on their status.
The one-on-one is also a great way to find out how you’re doing. Getting your team members to think about their own personal growth, doing a self-assessment and giving them advice for their careers is a great start.
Probing them for feedback on how you can better serve the team and the project can provide input for you to achieve your personal goals on the project and your long-term goals for your career.
Feedback like this is a great way to facilitate better performance for the project and for each individual team member involved.
I welcome your comments and criticisms.