Q: Lately, I received feedback that my team feels that I take credit for their work and don’t give them enough visibility and responsibility.
Some have even left over it. I admit I’m a hard-driving, high-octane kind of person. What can I do to get them on board? — Jared, 41, IT executive
A: Rather than trying to change them, focus on your own leadership skills.
Start by listening to yourself!
You are getting stark feedback that your management style is an issue. The team’s critiques highlight some of the most important drivers of employee satisfaction.
Moreover, the situation is so severe that you have lost team members.
Yet, your first thought is to “get them on board.”
Think about this. Put yourself in their position: Imagine a peer in this situation and do whatever it takes for you to see how tone-deaf your response really is.
Once you have gotten to a sincere awareness of your need to improve, you can focus on skills and behavior.
If you are not sure where to start, consider getting some additional input.
Given the dynamic with you and your team members, you may want to have an HR person or coach solicit the feedback so that people feel more comfortable providing details.
The key is to not just have “venting” conversations. Finding out people’s hopes and vision for a great working relationship will be even more helpful than knowing what you’ve been doing wrong.
Then get serious about a plan to move forward.
No. 1: acquire new skills.
Top among them is learning to slow down. You are used to “hard-driving” right over people. And at first, it likely seems faster to race ahead and get things done.
The problem is that people feel pushed out and don’t get to grow. Plus, as one person, there’s only so much you can do.
As practice, identify a recent situation when you could have engaged your team — but did the lone-wolf act instead. Then map out an alternative.
In an act of transparency, discuss this with your team, letting them know you are trying to change your style, and getting their feedback on your ideas.
Then build on this approach on future opportunities. Bring the need to the team, get their input, and give ownership to the appropriate people.
This may identify another skill you will need: being able to delegate. This requires you to recognize there are multiple legitimate ways to achieve a goal and to see that someone else’s way might be better than yours.
It also requires you to abstain from micromanagement, and to resist any urge to swoop in and take over in midstream.
As you try to change, you will fail. Accept that and learn to do some fast and effective recovery.
If you are in the habit of saying, “my idea, my project, my achievement,” get used to catching yourself. Follow it with, “Actually, this was Maryam’s idea and the team did great work on bringing it about.”
Strive to be recognized as a brilliant leader, one who is known for attracting and nurturing great talent. Your employees and your company all win; therefore, so will you.