Being a good leader is not solely a matter of how you rally the troops in a group setting: it’s also how you can motivate your team members on an individual basis.
“Your team members really want to know, ‘where do I fit in?” says April-Lynn Levitt, a coach with The Personal Coach in Toronto.
By understanding your team members’ individual skills, you encourage an environment where they feel valued and are inspired to make even greater contributions.
Here are three tips on how to encourage team members:
1. Provide opportunities for professional development
If you want a stable team with little turnover, you must provide opportunities for people to grow within their roles.
This includes providing guidance on the industry and inviting team members to attend educational seminars with you.
Some advisors worry that team members will leave once they become more experienced, according to Levitt.
“Maybe that’s a risk but you’ve got a much more engaged employee if that’s something that’s important for them to do,” she says.
2. Give effective feedback
When somebody has done a great job, you want that person to know. It can also be useful to have the team understand what that person did that was so helpful. By providing examples of great performance to the team, it shows them what they should be working towards, says Levitt.
So, maybe your junior associate offered to watch the young children of a client during her appointment. Your client was delighted that she could speak with you without distractions and impressed with your associate’s kid-friendly personality.
You then send out an email to the team complimenting your associate on his assistance because it demonstrated commitment to personalized service.
If you praise team members publicly, avoid paying too much attention to one or two people. The point is to encourage your staff, not inspire resentment.
When giving negative feedback, do it privately and calmly as well as immediately after the problem becomes apparent.
If an error was made, go through the issue in a detailed manner and discuss how to improve the situation with that team member.
For example, your sales assistant sent the wrong client document to compliance and didn’t realize the error until compliance contacted the team member a few days later.
Use this as an educational opportunity. Ask the team member for a step-by-step summary of how he processed the document so that he understands where the error was made and how to prevent the situation in the future.
3. Treat everyone fairly, but not the same
Take the time to learn what motivates your team members and their preferred communication styles. You can do this through team-building days or taking members out individually for lunch.
This is another way to engage everyone and make them feel like equal contributors to your practice and not simply employees.
Perhaps, for example, you choose to reward your team at the end of the year with a celebration but you have one team member who travels every year at that time. Find another way to show this person you appreciate their contribution to the practice, such as by providing a gift card to a high-end restaurant.
This is the second in a two-part series on the value of leadership skills.