For new supervisors and entrepreneurs whose startup company is also their first management experience, understanding how to motivate a team and work with its strengths can be a bit of a challenge. The key is understanding who they are as individuals, what motivates them, and what their distinct backgrounds can bring to the table when it’s time to make decisions about the direction of a project. That means understanding generational differences in motivation and communication style, as Eyal Gutentag points out. It also means understanding how to listen to a team, because listening to people you supervise involves making space for them to come forward.
Compassion and Trust
These two traits are the most important ones to cultivate if you are trying to build a team of assertive, contributing members who feel confident in their own contributions to the project. Compassion allows you to understand how problems in the work process build up, without placing blame. It also helps you respond in ways that preserve your relationship to your team, get the results you need, and responsively improve the individual team members’ morale. Most of the time, problems in the process are caused by factors that are not controllable, and understanding that is the first step toward helping team members overcome outside stressors and other obstacles to success.
Trust is the other side of that equation. You need to rely on the expertise in your team, and that means hearing and going with their recommendations when they come from a place of knowledge. You might not be able to let every team member weigh in on every choice during a project, but you will do everyone a disservice if you don’t let the course of the project flow through the decisions of experts and stakeholders in the end result.
Practice Makes Perfect
No one is born a great manager, it takes practice. Start today, and remember to keep working on your approach to balance the leadership and discipline your team needs with the support that will help them thrive.