Too often team engagement – in particular engagement between leaders and their key people – is left to human resources professionals to manage, according to founder and chief executive of community network LBDGroup, Janine Garner.
Garner spends her time working with senior leaders to build high-performing teams and says if a business is going to survive in the age of information, a collaborative way of working needs to be introduced: “Isolationist leadership is just that – isolating. Commercial success means collaboration and a shift from the ‘me’ space into the ‘we’ space.”
Change your approach and attitude
If you’re typically operating from a mentality of absolute authority, for example: ‘This is my idea, my project, outcome, my result, and my credit’, it can be incredibly difficult to switch up your mindset, says Garner.
“To effectively reconnect with your team, it is not just a matter of paying lip-service, or appearing from behind a closed office door every so often. Working in a truly collaborative way means understanding why you need to be a part of your team, rather than being apart from them.”
Be adaptable in the digital age
Today’s consumers have access to information, innovation, ideas and products that are available 24/7, and if they don’t like your offering, they can look online within the space of a heartbeat and find what they’re after somewhere else, says Garner.
As a leader you need to not only be up-to-date with trends in your industry, but be able to predict potential threats you might not have envisioned two, five or 10 years ago. Your team is absolutely essential to your business’ continued success because together you have the complete skillset to turn threats into opportunities, says Garner.
Instead of doing several things yourself in an average way, expert knowledge gives you expert results.
Change the working environment
“Don’t set yourself up in a cushy corner office with closed walls. Studies have shown that working within a collaborative physical environment actually improves team engagement and drives results,” says Garner.
Allowing yourself to show weakness in front of your team is not weak but a sign of strength, and will lead to reconnection, says Garner. You’ll be succeeding on two fronts, by building personal relationships and at the same time engendering a bank of skills for future projects.
Admitting when you have made a poor decision, or that you are having trouble reaching a successful conclusion to a problem and require assistance engenders trust. In turn, team members feel they are also allowed to admit that they might need assistance.
Give credit where it is due
Acknowledge when your team members are the ones responsible for a result, an idea or a product – it is just one of several ways that leaders can motivate their employees. Too often, a leader tends to stand solo in the spotlight and leave the team hiding in the shadows, meaning they create a disconnect in terms of trust, says Garner: “When someone adds value, acknowledge that contribution – and do it publicly.”