As we’ve made our way through five blog posts based on my eBook Leading Teams that Get Results, I’ve endeavored to illustrate how each step brings us toward more successful teamwork; for example, spending time getting to know your team allows you to trust each other in creating expectations and a healthy culture. As a result, the team can negotiate efficient processes and clarify its purpose allowing the team to reach and exceed goals.
There’s one last step that completes the cycle of success: soliciting insight. Doing everything right the first time is nearly impossible. That’s why there needs to be a step in place to evaluate your work as a team and push everyone to improve. In today’s blog, we’ll talk about a simple yet crucial procedure to ensure your team never becomes stagnant:
Whether your team succeeds or fails, your feedback loop will keep things moving in the right direction.
The Leader Nobody Wants
Think back to the last time you were a team member, not the leader. Did your supervisor listen to your suggestions? Or was it frustrating to see them so sure of their methods that they ignored any outside input?
Unfortunately, it’s not hard for each of us to remember at least one former team leader that favored the latter. Stubborn managers not only makes team members feel inferior; they undermine the team’s potential as a whole when they don’t take the ideas and insight of others into account.
No one wants to be a leader with tunnel vision, but if not intentionally addressed, even the best leaders can suffer from closing off constructive criticism. As a team lead, it is just as much your job to learn from your team members as it is for them to learn from you—input and suggestion need to go both ways for a team to become the best it can be. How do you, then, avoid stunting your team’s growth with a lopsided perspective?
Creating a Loop
The key to solving this problem lies in a system called a feedback loop. A feedback loop analyzes the results of any team action and makes them applicable to the future. It opens up perceptions about your team’s work of which you had previously been unaware. To understand the components of a feedback loop, let’s first see how it looks in action.
Katerina runs a printing company that has had consistent growth over the past few years, unlike its competitors. On the surface, this looks like a typical small business, but when we investigate what makes it tick, a defining factor becomes clear:
At the start of every week, Katerina holds a meeting with her entire staff with the expectation that they will give their input on how the team can improve. She holds an open ended discussion, probing for their perspective on daily tasks, the allocation of resources and, most importantly, how effectively she is managing them.
Katerina gathers these ideas into notes and heads back to her office to analyze what was said. One particular week, a few employees surface the conflict they feel between completing quality work and what they feel to be unrealistic deadlines from Katerina. Katerina concludes that the cause was an uneven division of responsibility between team members.
At the following week’s meeting, Katerina takes action by reorganizing the day-to-day tasks around the company’s most important operations. She makes sure her team is aware of her reasoning behind these changes and that they are in direct response to the concerns they brought up earlier. She makes a special point to thank her team for bringing the issue to her attention, as she might not have known anything was going wrong otherwise.
Paying it Forward
Katerina’s ultimate purpose for creating a feedback loop included her recognition of the team’s success and potential to improve and grow. She anticipated that her team’s goals, structures, and resources would change as time went on, so she made the resolution to keep her team evolving by their regular suggestions.
Creating a feedback loop like Katerina did is only possible when you are willing to act on curiosity and bring those new ideas to life. If you fear that your team will head toward failure by giving up a little control, remember that failure only serves to shed light on what your team needs to succeed. Each team member can lead eventually. Empowering them now will set an example showing the importance of soliciting insight from others.
Are you ready to share your leadership experience?
Please share your stories in the comments. Let’s learn to lead together.
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