Help Your Team Find Its Voice, Promote Collaboration, and Set Expectations While You’re At It.
Outside of the office, everyone has their own unique personality. They are interesting, funny, articulate, sharp, jerky, silly, brave, and a whole lot in between. Whatever personality the individuals on your team embody, they should feel empowered to inject your business with a little bit of flavor. After all, wasn’t part of the reason you hired them in the first place that they were one (or all) of those characteristics above? A professional voice is a little bit different from one’s personal voice however, and it’s your job as the manager to help your team realize and refine the nuances over time.
I’ve learned a lot at my current role, but the thing that I cherish the most so far is something I’ve never experienced before: our company employees, our customers, our partners – it’s the combination of all of these articulate voices, opinions, and experiences intermingling and ideating that is what leads to all of the amazing things we make happen every day.
Supporting an environment that produces such a high concentration of quality is something worth investing in, and a true open door policy is perhaps the most important thing you can do to help support your team while they find and develop their voices in the workplace. For the management team, this is probably the most challenging strategy of your career to execute as you must frequently sacrifice your own productivity and focus.
Why Open Doors, All Day Long?
Just like for you, with your team, brilliance comes in waves. The best ideas bubble up while waiting for the morning train, refilling your water bottle, or while walking back to the office from buying a birthday card. Where will you be when your team member is quick stepping back into the office, excited to share his or her spark of brilliance with you?
When All Day Long Is Not An Option (Which It Never Is)
When it comes to balancing mentoring managing, and doing, the most important tool you have is your ability to set expectations when time is not on your side. Lets be honest – you won’t be able to focus 100% of your time to waiting for sparks of brilliance to show their faces, and your team will understand that.
Be honest with your team and offer them an alternative – document the idea and collaborate with a peer to work the idea to present at a later time. They will appreciate and respect your honesty in the end. And, they will improve their ability to pre-develop and present their ideas from the beginning (which has more long-term benefit than you being there when they want to bounce ideas off you).
A few tips to set your team up for success here:
- Suggest a specific person to collaborate with that you know can add to the conversation
- In the beginning, let them know what you would like to see as a deliverable (2 slides? 1-pager? Whiteboard photo? 3 bullets? Draft plan?)
- Suggest a good time period to follow up (A few days? A week?)
Over time, the team embraces pickup collaboration as the norm, they get better at identifying each other’s strengths, and their unique voices melt together into a sweet symphony.