Are you boring your own team?
People do their best work when they are in their stretch zones. I don’t mean stretched in the way most people use it, which is just another term for “busy” – they’ve got too much to do and don’t know how they will fit it all in. I’m talking about a different stretch. You know the one I mean, where what you’re doing is testing you. Your brain is having to actively focus on it and work it out. It’s challenging, you’re solving problems, you’re learning.
Above all, working in that space is interesting and sometimes even FUN.
When you start a new job you spend a lot of time being stretched, hungrily absorbing and shaping your new reality. The trouble is once you’ve learned how to do a job you get into your comfort zone. You know how to do it, so finding that stretch is increasingly difficult.
As a leader this is a real challenge – how do you keep your team in the stretch zone once they know how to do their jobs? We have seen three common mistakes in teams of all sizes, from a young startup to global corporates.
The first mistake that leaders make is just giving team members too much to do. Take on that new project, increase the target, mentor a new member of the team. Fine, they might find a stretch there, but mostly it just becomes another thing on the to-do list.
The second mistake leaders make is to give them more technical training. I’m going to put it out there – technical training is easy. Learning new facts is easy – once you know it, what do you do after that? How does that knowledge continue to stretch you? Acquiring knowledge is easy, and easy means boring.
The third is to push them towards leadership. Take on additional staff responsibility, do some leadership training. Take the lead on XYZ agenda. I don’t want to repeat the old adage that the best sales people do not necessarily make the best managers, but……. Yeah, that. Not everyone wants to be a leader, so where is the next stretch for your technical specialists?
As a leader if you are falling into these habits with your team, they could be a bit bored, a bit busy, or engaged in the wrong stuff..
The modern work environment needs a new type of stretch, to keep teams interested and engaged with their work. It needs a third dimension, beyond technical and leadership training.
Where should we hunt for this? We found answers in the world of the entrepreneur. Have you ever known an entrepreneur to be bored? Unstretched? Disengaged? And it’s not because they get more technical or leadership training than other people.
It’s their mindset.
Mindset development is the third dimension of stretch. Entrepreneurs have to continually evolve at a deep level in order to grow, otherwise they plateau very quickly. The best entrepreneurs work hard and consciously to grow their entrepreneurial mindset – their creativity, courage, resilience, self-management and social awareness, that help them shape the world around them.
Imagine developing your team like this! The tools are often simple, but the challenge is hard. It’s the type of development where you can FEEL the change when it happens – you know something inside you has shifted and you will never look at the world in the same way again.
And because it’s hard, because it’s a stretch, it’s engaging and interesting in a way that other challenges aren’t. The potential for growth in this space is practically limitless – there is no cap on emotional intelligence or a point after which it stops being useful. It drives every other part of performance. How can you sell without relationship skills? How can you lead without self awareness? How can you solve problems without creativity?