Knowing the point of what you’re doing, and getting the meaning of it. Being engaged in the mission, vision and values of your organisation. And your team all get it too. The non profit sector is full of people who joined because they believe in its purpose, but sometimes, in the pressure of being overwhelmed, stressed and overworked, this can get lost.
Reconnect with the purpose of your organisation, and help your team reconnect too, and everyone will feel the sense of achievement that comes with doing something worthwhile.
Once your team has clarity on what is expected of them, leave them alone to get on with it. If you’ve delegated the task, delegate the power for them to decide how to carry out the task. All you need concern yourself with is the outcome and when it needs to be done.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should wash your hands of all responsibility. As well as ensuring your team understand what success looks like, they must also know that they can come to you if they need help or it’s going wrong in some way. But don’t be looking over their shoulder and micromanaging. Everyone hates that.
We all like to feel that we’re good at something. On occasions, I’ve had to cover for my husband’s business – dealing with tools like angle grinders and reciprocating saws. No, I don’t know the difference, and I hate the feeling of incompetence when someone asks me something I have no clue about. So make sure
· You recruit people with an aptitude for the work you need doing
· Equip them and train them for the work
· Continue to support them and give them room to grow
Look at the communication culture within your organisation. Is everything done on email, even though you could get up and go talk to someone a few desks away? Or do you have the opposite problem, anyone thinks nothing of interrupting someone deep in concentration on a lengthy report or statistical analysis? Do you have endless unproductive meetings? Or never keep people informed of what’s going on so they feel left out?
It's important to have good systems of communication so that you can strike that balance of keeping people in the loop, without wasting their time on too much information. A team manager in the banking sector holds a 30 minute skype call every morning at 8.30 with her team, and finds it a great way to ensure clarity amongst her team. That might not be quite right for you, but think about what might work and give it a try.
We all thrive on praise, even those who think they’re motivated by money. If we feel truly valued at work, we work better. When there are problems, we are more likely to stay late if needed, get in early, do whatever it takes to achieve the desired outcome, when we know that our efforts are appreciated. The appreciation comes first though – if we don’t feel valued, we don’t go the extra mile. If we already know we’re valued, then we will. So it’s up to you to make sure your team knows you appreciate them and their work.
Research has shown that people who have a friend at work tend to stay longer with an organisation. That feeling of support, knowing that someone cares about you, makes a big difference to our work experience.
Take it a step further, and if we know our managers care about us, that our organisation has our back, this helps to create that feeling of being valued. Like appreciation, the support has to come first. If someone is having difficulties, show them that you care by giving practical support. If they’re having difficulty with a task and you can help, then help. Expect others to help too, work together as a team. Prioritise as a team, rather than work in isolation.
It’s not just work difficulties where we need support. A friend’s wife is seriously ill in hospital, and he’s spending every evening after work visiting. His employer allowed him time off without limiting it when the accident first happened, and again when she took a turn for the worse. How much more stress would it cause if he was worried about losing his job as well as losing his wife?
Probably most crucial of all is trust. It’s fundamental to how we work, and if it’s not there, it will take a long time to develop. It won’t develop without the other six factors mentioned above, it can’t exist in a vacuum. But as the manager, you can lead the way. Show your team you trust them by communicating the purpose clearly, giving them the autonomy to manage themselves, investing in their growth and mastery, communicating effectively, appreciate what they’re doing, giving them support when they need it, so that they know you sincerely have their backs, and they will grow to trust you.
Do all this, and your workplace will be phenomenal. I’m not going to pretend that it’s easy, but the results will be worth it.
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