You may think you have developed the winning formula, but as the old saying goes “there is more than one way to skin a cat” (apologies to all animal lovers reading this!) and by insisting that others follow your path may actually be harmful to the business.
An alternative route
While 1+ 4 = 5, so does 2 + 3. No matter how successful you have been, someone else has just as much of a chance achieve the same results using a different methodology. Your responsibility as a leader to ensure your team is clear regarding what they need to achieve, but different people obviously have different skills sets. By insisting that someone else should take a specific path may actually hinder their progress as they may feel uncomfortable taking a particular approach.
For example, someone who is more extrovert will be more comfortable cold calling to generate leads, but someone who is an introvert may feel more at home making initial contact via email, social media etc… One way may turn out to be more successful than the other, but allowing an individual to experiment and try their own way before insisting on a particular process will build trust and you may even be surprised at the results a different method brings.
The customer interface
It is inevitable that as you get promoted within a company that you will get further away from the customer on a day-to-day basis. No matter how hard you try to stay close to the coalface, your team will gradually have a much better understanding of what is required to meet your customers’ needs than you will have and therefore they are a lot more equipped to come up with new ways to meet and possibly exceed expectations.
By giving your team the flexibility to look after customers how they see fit (within reason) and go the extra mile will produce much better results than dictating a particular approach and system.
As mentioned, it is vital to set people clear, specific goals, but it is also important to stretch them for their own personal development. By setting them goals and then telling them how to get there isn’t going to get them out of their comfort zone, but by providing difficult (but achievable) targets and giving them the freedom to achieve them on their own terms will make any success they do have so much sweeter and boost their personal confidence.
Of course, your team may be daunted in the first instance when set tasks designed to challenge them, but your role as a mentor is to offer encouragement, keep an eye on their progress and provide support when necessary in order to help them succeed in their objectives.
Credit where credit’s due
It may feel like that by giving your staff autonomy to achieve their goals in their own way is neglecting your job as a manager, but this is simply not the case. As stated, your job as a leader is to provide clear goals, to be a sounding board and provide the adequate amount of support.
The added benefit of taking this approach is that by allowing your team the freedom to find their own way, you will have a happy and motivated team members, who will sing your praises and you will also get credit from senior management for any success that they achieve. Not that this would be the main motivation for doing this… obviously!
Gary Skipper is the marketing manager of Newman Stewart Executive Search & Selection.
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