Are Your Team Members Planning on Leaving?

As a leader it is good to know if someone is thinking of leaving the organization. Listed below are some behaviors that may indicate someone is planning on leaving. As a leader, you can address these behaviors calmly and rationally.

They have shown less interest in working with clients than usual.

They have left early from work more frequently than they normally do.

Their work productivity has gone quite a bit recently.

They don’t seem interested in upholding the vision of the organization.

They have spoken more about not being happy with other team members.

They have been much less of a team player lately; they keep to themselves.

They have just been doing the “minimum” frequently as of late.

They have said they weren’t getting along with their co-workers recently.

They haven’t be interested in long term goals and projects.

Generally speaking, their attitude has been negative.

They have been a “low effort” “low motivation” team member lately.

Addressing these issues will be necessary as a leader whether they problem is the team member is planning on leaving or not.

Thinking About Leadership

W.C.H. Prentice in a landmark article defined leadership thusly: “the accomplishment of a goal through the direction of human assistants”

Prentice believed a successful leader is one who understands people’s motivations. They are someone who enlist organization members’ participation in a way that brings together the interests and needs of individuals to the group’s purpose. Prentice believed in a democratic leadership that gives organization members a space in which they can learn and grow. Yet, this space needs governed so there is not anarchy.

Prentice’s ideas about how to motivate people to support the organization’s purpose is timeless.

Leaders should always be getting to know their group’s members so they can understand their motivations. And one learning about those motivations using them as impetuous to spur that group member into action for the benefit of the organization and themselves.

Material rewards are important but there should also always be room for personal growth, and it is the leader’s job to create that opportunity. This personal growth should be linked both to the group member’s motivations and too the goals of the organization.

Are You Really A Good Listener?

Most people would consider themselves good listeners. As with many things people’s self-assessments of themselves is much higher than the reality. And being a good listener is an essential part of being a good leader. Take a moment to set ego aside and assess whether are not you are listening as well as you could be.

Many people believe that good listening comes down to three simple items: not talking when others are speaking; letting others know you’re listening through facial expression and verbal confirmations (“mmmhmm”); being able to repeat what others have said, maybe even word for word.

A lot of managing advice given about being a good listener specifically instructs that managers do these things. Remain mostly quiet, nod with the obligatory “mmmhmm” and repeat back what the speaker has said. However, many believe this falls short or is at best just the beginning of good listening.

Consider the following as well.

Good listening isn’t just about polite silence while the other person talks. In fact, many believe the opposite is true. Many think that those who periodically ask questions that encourage exploration of the topic to be good listeners. These listeners ask questions that challenge the status quo in a constructive way. Sitting, nodding and making little sounds is no assurance that someone is really listening but when someone hears that their listener is critically analyzing what they say and asking critical thinking questions they know that person is really listening.

Good listening should include some kind of interaction that helps build the speaker’s self-esteem. A good listener makes the conversation a positive experience and this can’t happen through silence or negative criticism. Good listeners make people feel supported and that the listener has confidence in them.

The best listening is seen as a just a part of cooperative conversation. Feedback should be a back and forth with neither party becoming defensive about what the other has said. Looking only for errors in what another is saying might make you good at academic argumentation but not a good listener. The speaker should feel you are trying to help.
Just listening isn’t enough.

Good listeners do make suggestions. If a listener says nothing the speaker might as well journal their problems as the blank page is as responsive as a listener who says nothing, suggests nothing and doesn’t actively support the speaker.

Your Team Doesn’t Need a Parent

The new workplace is more fluid and job titles are becoming less important. Many of today’s employees seek interesting projects with meaningful problems to solve. They want meaningful work and not just titles.

One major change in organizations is that in these new types of project-oriented spaces, teams do more and more without first seeking approval from those who are above them. People in non-management positions are acting and thinking more like traditional leaders.
And in many organizations, this is exactly the kind of team member that is wanted. Those who are problem solvers that can work with varied peer groups, keep themselves organized and on task and move forward on their own with confidence. Essentially being their own boss.

So, if organizations are looking for this kind of team member and the traditional “nanny” type manager is no longer needed, what is the role of the leader in this new world?
Simply put, you should be there to share your experience. You are the extra cog, the extra ball bearing. A floater. Someone with confidence and experience who can transition from one part of a project to another to help where help is needed. Leaders are now the support staff—not to say you should be making copies and bringing some one coffee (though maybe sometimes that is the most useful thing you could be doing for your team), but you are there as the multi-tool.

Imagine being this kind of leader who trusts his team members to do their jobs and doesn’t “helicopter-parent” yet drops in on a parachute with a light touch and a wisdom based suggestion just when the team needs it.

Questions All Good Leaders Should Ask Pt. 2

Here are some additional questions a leader can use to help a mentee evaluate themselves or a problem they are having.

What can you control is another great question leaders can ask their mentees. The best part about this question is that it shifts the focus away from what is out of the control of the mentee clearing the mind to think about what one could actually do about the situation.

What solutions have you come up with is a good question because when struggling, stagnating is the worst thing someone can do. Knowing that your mentee has at least some ideas and won’t be relying strictly on their leader for ideas and answers.

While strictly not a question, tell me more, is a request that can help bring to the surface biases or blind spots that might be stopping up the mentee or additional details the leader can use to help the mentee.

Finally, one might ask, what are you reading? Asking about hobbies, interests, reading habits and similar questions help a leader to get to know their mentee on a personal level. This can give the leader a more complete view of the mentee.

Leaders and mentors should not feel obligated to use all these questions all the time when mentoring team members. Like much else they are a toolbox and one should always select the correct tool for the job.

It Only Takes One Inspiring Trait to be a Leader

The mysteries of inspiration may never be fully unraveled but one quality most leaders aspire to have among their team members or staff is to be an inspiration. We may not all have it in us to be the students of The Dead Poet Society’s “Oh Captain My Captain” but as science has proven great leaders are made, not born. So, what is it you can do to inspire your team?

Having one admirable or inspiring trait can be all it takes to be a go-to guy for your team. There are many traits that can work and these might all fall under a few umbrella categories. Any trait you can foster as “your thing” that will help with one of the following will go a long way in making you an inspiring leader. No leader has it all and figuring out your leadership “super power” will help you push that to the forefront of your style.

If you trait helps others develop their inner resources that’s a great one. One good thing all leaders do is help others be their best.

Connecting with others; if what you do is speak to people, empathize, sympathize, see things from their perspective you can be the person who helps the group understand itself as a set of individuals who are also more than the some their parts.

Maybe what you do well is “set the tone;” however you do that. No one is asking this kind of leader to be an actor; this kind of leader reads the room and knows the kind of pep talk the majority of the team needs.

Finally, many leaders are good at, simply said, leading. You are great at delegating, mitigating, negotiating. Every organization needs someone who is simply good at logistics and planning.

While it is certainly admirable and desirable to be more than one of these traits no persons journey as a leader need begin with a fool toolbox.