What Do You Know (about your Team Members)?

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What do you know about your team members? No, I mean what do you really know about them as individual people? Their aspirations? What motivates them? What core values do they strive to live by? How about their preferred communication style? Talents and skills they possess which they aren’t using in their current role? How do they like to work?

If you don’t know these things, and more, about every member of your team, you’re just a Task Master.

Most managers know as much as they need in order to direct team members to The Next Thing. We live very close to what’s right in front of us. How can you meet the next deadline? Who will deliver that piece of the project? Did you get that update submitted on time? Will we make shipment? And these are critical, urgent questions which you need to be able to answer (or get answered) in order to check the boxes of effective management. But it is far from the full picture. You may have the “urgent” covered, what about the “important”? In other words, you’re losing the forest for the sake of the trees. You’re missing the big picture.

Each member of your team brings unique strengths, limitations, insights and perspective to the table. If you don’t understand what makes each member of your team tick, it’s much harder to plan. Plan for their development, plan for the next project, plan how to deploy the rich resources of your team to the greatest effect.

Last week, we talked about ways to assess the engagement of your team members. Go back to that list you made of each team member. Make another column, and this time, challenge yourself to see what you can answer about each of the following questions:

  • What is this person’s greatest aspiration?
  • What does this person want to do next? (i.e. after this role)
  • What are three principles/values which really guide this person’s life?
  • How does this person prefer to communicate, both giving and receiving?
  • What keeps this person up at night?
  • What gets this person out of bed in the morning?
  • Why does this person keep coming to work every day to do this job?
  • What are three key strengths this person has?
  • What talents/skills does this person have that they are not currently using in this role?

There are some obvious (and superficial) answers to each of those questions you could probably jot down quickly. And you’re welcome to do that, but you’d be missing the point.

The point is this. The better we really know our team members, the more we can improve their quality of life on the team. That creates deeper trust, which fosters even greater performance.

And whatever you discover you don’t really know about each person on your team? You can ask. Invite them to have a cup of coffee with you, virtually or in person. If you’re virtual, turn those cameras on and ask permission to learn more about what’s important to them. You might be delighted by what you learn.


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