As you can imagine, it is always in my best interest to try to get the best and most productive work out of those who work with me and around me. Another words, cooperation is important. Over time, I've derived these five tips for getting the most from the individuals I work with and manage in order to best serve my organization and my customers. As you read through these five practices, please be considering what has helped you the most when you are trying to get the most efficient and productive work out of those around you.
Practice effective and efficient communication. Good leadership always starts with effective and efficient communication. For project managers, for example, my strong belief is that it is their number one most important responsibility. In fact, I would expand that to cover all managers and leaders of individuals. Failure to properly and accurately communicate is the basis for many failed projects and tasks – sometimes costing organizations millions of dollars in the process. If you're looking to get the most out of those around you, then it will always need to start with good communication. Everyone must be on the same page and focused on the same goals in order to be as productive and efficient as possible.
Recognize and reward. If you want consistently high production and repeatedly good performance from employees and team members, then you need to be ready to recognize the good performances from those team members and staff and reward that behavior. When you're leading a project and the outcome is successful, recognize the team in a company-wide announcement. When an employee or team member goes above and beyond the call of duty on a project or task, recognize that employee or team member publicly. If it directly affected a customer, call that performance out to the customer with public praise. No one wants to work for a manager who always claims success from the work of others. If you want to draw the most from your staff and your team – don't be that kind of manager. Acknowledge individual performances publicly – the payback on such public acknowledgement can be huge in terms of dedication, following and future performance.
Be open and honest with everyone. I am a firm believer in open and honest interaction with our team members, employees, customers and stakeholders. It's just good business. But it's more than that. Honesty breeds consistency and that's where real confidence, satisfaction, production and dedication is derived from those around us. How we are perceived often drives how we are treated by our co-workers and staffs. It's hard to follow someone who isn't truthful or who you don't believe in. Have you ever had a manager who liked to keep bad news from the customer? Or a co-worker who was less than honest with senior management? I have. It's hard to give these people respect and to follow their direction, because you know they are working more in a self-serving mode than one that is in line with the goals and mission of the organization and likely they are working in direct contrast to what is in your best interest. These individuals may obtain leadership positions, but sooner or later (hopefully sooner), they fall or misstep and no one wants to be on their side of the fence when that happens.
Be an attentive listener. Communicating isn't just you talking. It is also you listening. The best communicators, over time, are the truly good listeners. As we conduct our meetings and disseminate information to our staff and project team members and extended stakeholders, it is critical for us to be listening to the feedback we are getting during meetings or sessions. It's that critical step of listening that tells us whether or not we communicated effectively and if our audience “got it.” I recommend – highly recommend – following up all meetings with notes to attendees asking them to review, revise and return in order to ensure that everyone is still on the same page. But by listening well during meetings some miscommunications and misperceptions can be corrected even before the first person leaves the room or call.
Keep everyone informed. It isn't just about communication. It's about information distribution. It's about timely and efficiently led meetings. It's about regularly producing status reports that provide meaningful information, data and...well...status. The project manager or individual who makes sure that key stakeholders are up to date at all times can be assured that those individuals will be more ready, willing and able to help – productively and efficiently – when needed for information and decisions on a project or series of tasks.
Summary / call for input
The best of the best are able to get the most production and efficient work out of those around them. The best project managers are able to get the most out of their dedicated and skilled project team members. The best CEOs get the most out of their companies and employees and investors because of their dedication, hard work, vision and integrity. The best consultants get the most out of their clients and individuals they are working with because of their honesty, fair practices, and timely delivery. It's about doing what you say you're going to do, acting as others expect you to act, and ensuring that everyone is on the same page and working toward a common goal. These five key tips that I've alluded to in this article help you to get to that point, but I know there are more.
Think about ways you draw the most and best work out of your team and following? What characteristics shine through from the best leaders you've known throughout your career that seem to get the most out of those around them? What on this list do you agree with? What would you add to it?