Sama eBook: Learn how to engage your team in your L&D programs

Managers are confronted with new realities in today’s work environment.

Emerging trends are quickly reshaping the world of work as we know it and redefining manager-employee dynamics. This means that the nature of your managers’ job may be different from what they signed up to.

  • Remote and hybrid work models are becoming the norm. A recent survey found that 73% of employees want flexible remote work. Less face time in an office requires us to be more conscious and disciplined about how we communicate as a team.
  • Teams value human connection. According to a Mckinsey report employees prioritize feeling appreciated and connected over compensation when deciding whether to stay or move on from a company. There is a notable need for a more human-centric management style.
  • Technology is impacting the way work is done. Gartner predicts that almost 69% of managers’ routine work could be automated by 2024.
  • Managing during a looming recession. A number of companies have started restructuring initiatives in the wake of a recession. Managing teams in a downturn is different from managing teams during a bull market. Maintaining team morale to achieve business objectives while the sky is falling adds complexity.

Managers are central to employee experience and managers’ actions have a direct impact on team performance and wellbeing. It is not surprising that Gartner found that 60% of HR leaders consider leadership and managerial effectiveness a top priority for 2023.

How can companies ensure that their managers are the people leaders they need?

Identify key challenges

Start with investigating what challenges your managers are facing. These insights can help you identify trends and adapt your learning and development support accordingly. Talk to your managers about the key issues they’re dealing with. What can often come up is team motivation, giving constructive feedback or leading remote teams. You can complement their inputs with data from employee engagement surveys.

Share best practices

Leverage successful managers within your organization. Identify what makes them successful and share those practices and behaviors with others. You can share strategies around how managers can build the right environment for collaboration, how to offer constructive feedback to help employees grow or how to set the right goals that can help accelerate team performance.

Create communities to support your managers

Peer support can be very valuable. Invite managers to weekly or monthly forums, where they can discuss their challenges and share experiences. Discussions can be open or facilitated on specific topics. Such meaningful conversations can help managers gather feedback and uncover creative solutions that help them strengthen their leadership capabilities.

Provide development opportunities

Invest in managers’ professional development to equip them with the right skills and mindset to successfully lead teams.

Using one-on-one coaching to develop your managers can be a powerful tool. These confidential coaching sessions empower managers to explore their own strengths and development areas. Coaches help challenge their thinking and keep them accountable for converting good intentions into positive actions that support their teams’ development and performance.

Reward managers for more than just results

Just as team members have shifted their values in the workplace, recognition practices should as well. This is just smart leadership, as managers who show high levels of empathy have 3x the impact on their employees’ performance relative to those who show low levels of empathy. Provide recognition and highlight success stories of those managers who live the values of your organization and create a positive work environment for their teams.

Help managers optimize their time

With new technologies, organizations have more tools and resources at their disposal to help teams optimize their time and energy. You can leverage tools that help automate repetitive tasks and enable managers to get insights into their team members’ workloads. This can help managers refocus their time and attention on higher-impact relationships. Take the time to evaluate which tech tools your organization could benefit from and make sure that everyone knows how to use them properly.

Managers are the key to unlock performance and team wellbeing. While the world of work is evolving, in a changing economic environment, investing in your managers’ development is crucial. Organizations and HR professionals must take proactive steps in order to develop the skills and mindsets of managers in line with the demands of today’s workforce. Ultimately, by doing so, they’ll create teams that are engaged and productive.

Last year the term “The Great Resignation” was coined to refer to the mass quitting that companies experienced.

A lot has been discussed since then about the reasons behind the record high quit rates and what companies can do to resolve this. 

A year later, we find ourselves in the same place with employee dissatisfaction remaining at high levels. According to a Harris Poll survey, 1 in 5 people who changed jobs during the Great Resignation now feel regret. A Lattice study found that over 60% of employees who joined their company in the last 3-6 months in the US and UK are already looking to leave. How are your new joiners doing?

There is quite a bit of post-resignation regret.

Employees are discovering that the grass isn’t greener on the other side

Almost 75% of people who job-hopped their way to more flexible working conditions and a higher salary experienced ‘surprise or regret’ that their new position did not match their expectations.

This growing dissatisfaction is leading to things like “quiet quitting” and more recently, “quick quitting” – where people from different industries are leaving their jobs within the first year.

The discrepancy between expectations and reality is something that leaders need to address if the revolving door of new hires is to be stopped. 

How can companies create better experiences that re-engage their employees and secure retention of key talent?

Nail onboarding

Improving talent retention starts with onboarding, especially in the era of hybrid or remote work. A Gallup report suggests that employees who have a positive onboarding experience are 2.6x more likely to feel supported and satisfied in their new role.

Conversely, neglecting the onboarding process can leave new hires with lower confidence and declining levels of engagement, making them more likely to abandon ship when a shiny, new, more exciting opportunity comes along. 

Managers are central to the employee experience. Including them in the onboarding process makes employees 3.4x more likely to feel that their onboarding was a success.

Managers can help new hires align with company objectives early on, set expectations and provide them with personalized support that sets new hires up for success from day 1.

Set expectations

Mismatched expectations contribute to employee dissatisfaction. A simple way to avoid this is by setting clear expectations with employees from the outset – starting at the recruitment phase.

Be honest about the nature of the work, level of commitment needed, what flexible work arrangements the company has and what their progression in the company might look like.

By doing so, you can help to ensure that employees know what they’re getting into and can make an informed decision about whether or not the role is right for them.

Have regular career progression conversations

According to the recent Mckinsey report, at the heart of the Great Resignation was the employee perception that their current role lacked career development and advancement opportunities. 

One way team leaders can support their people’s need for growth is by having development reviews in addition to performance reviews. The purpose of these reviews is to focus on employee progression and development. 

This gives team leaders and employees the opportunity to communicate clearly and set realistic expectations regarding their professional development and career goals – whether that is access to coaching or mentorship, working on high visibility projects or gaining more responsibilities outside their current role.

Swap exit interviews for stay interviews

Exit interviews have been the standard approach to understand why employees leave. The issue with this approach is that it is reactive rather than proactive when it comes to driving employee retention. 

Stay interviews are an important tool that companies can use to proactively prevent employee turnover. You can conduct stay interviews once or twice a year and make it a consistent practice to get the most out of them.

Ask questions like “What motivates you about working with us?”, “What are we not doing as a company that you feel we should do?”. This can help identify and address problems before they lead to employees leaving the company.

The Great Resignation has left a lasting impact on the workforce. Gone are the days where companies can get away with toxic and exploitative environments that erode mental health and fuel burnout. The current situation demands that leaders adjust their approach in a way that makes proactive attempts to understand team members’ expectations and accommodate their need for fulfillment.

How many times do you think you’ve heard the phrase “we’re living in unprecedented times” in the last couple of years? Is it starting to sound meaningless? 

For many, the immediate sense of the pandemic threat has passed as people return to the office, travel, dining out and sporting events. What weighs on people’s minds today is the current state of the economy with surging inflation and a looming recession. This leads to a sense of uncertainty and potential instability for teams and leaders alike.

Unique circumstances call for a unique management approach for teams to thrive – which is an essential metric in the new world of work.

What exactly does it mean for an employee to be thriving?
Managers should care whether their team is thriving. A study shows that thriving employees miss less days in the office due to stress and have lower rates of burnout and health problems. Thriving employees have a positive outlook, are happy and energetic. A thriving employee is more productive.

4 Pillars to ensure your team is thriving

Create Purpose
Binding your team members through a common sense of purpose can help them find meaning in their work. Microsoft has found meaningful work to be one of the key components of thriving employees. No one wants to feel like another cog in the machine. When people understand why their work matters and how it fits into the bigger picture, they feel like they are part of something larger and are motivated to do their best work.

Offer Ownership
If the massive rise in the number of participants in the freelance, creator, and gig economies has anything to teach us, it’s that a sense of ownership is more important than ever to employees. No one wants to feel like “just an employee”. Good managers find opportunities to offer autonomy and ownership to team members. Holding your team members accountable is a powerful way to build a sense of ownership. Set clear expectations about the results you want and give them the freedom to achieve their targets in their own ways. It can feel scary for a manager to let go of that sense of control, but when it leads to thriving employees, the effort gives back tenfold. 

Supercharge Learning and Development
An important step to creating a thriving team is to offer generous opportunities for growth and development. A recent LinkedIn report found that 59% of respondents see professional development opportunities as one of the top areas to invest in to improve company culture. Helping your team members learn and grow is a great way to ensure they have the skills to respond to challenges and evolve with changing times.

Create a Sense of Community
Belonging is a basic human need. People who have a sense of community at work are 58% more likely to thrive at work, 55% more engaged, and 66% more likely to stay with their company. There are simple ways you can create opportunities for connection. Dedicate the first few minutes of your team meeting catching up with each other on non-work related topics. Organize social activities such as team quizzes and virtual bonding sessions for everyone to get to know each other.

Your company is only as strong as your people. Thriving employees persist and succeed in the face of uncertainty and can help you generate a competitive advantage to stay ahead of the curve.

There’s a handwritten sign on the door of the fast-food restaurant that shares a message with entering customers: “Short staffed! Please be kind to those who showed up today.”

If you’ve seen that image circulating on social media recently, you already have some understanding of the dilemma many managers are currently facing. The amount of work that needs to get done hasn’t changed, but on some days a manager’s team of 10 may actually be a team of seven, five, or even less. This is something we have seen happen during the last recession.

It’s easy to turn to those who are working and expect them to pick up the slack, but this approach is now more likely to backfire than succeed. The pandemic has led to a new kind of working culture and employee expectations surrounding work performance, compassion, loyalty, and trust in the workplace.  

What changed?
The pandemic created a unique confluence of factors that led many mid-career employees to reevaluate their priorities. Confronted with the feeling that their literal lives were on the line, many people started questioning their loyalty to work. The short, precious nature of humanity decreased their tolerance for burnout, and remote work gave many people a sense of what’s possible with more ownership of their time, like being more present with family or using a side hustle to pad their savings. During this time many new and younger workers sought entrepreneurial opportunities or joined the creator economy, starting their careers by working for themselves and failing to “buy in” to traditional workplace culture.  

This shift is reflected in another social media trend garnering notice in recent weeks: the concept of “quiet quitting.” Except it’s not actually quitting at all, but a term coined to represent employees coasting by on the bare minimum, refusing to put forth any effort beyond what’s absolutely required.  

Now, with employee loyalty and trust deeply eroded and leaders facing unprecedented demand for compassion, managers are stuck in the middle. It falls to you to provide the balance between leaders whose primary motivator is the company’s success (in the eyes of stakeholders like board members and shareholders) and employees whose primary motivator is, increasingly, their own wellbeing.  

How to Improve Work Performance
The good news is that managers can adopt compassionate tactics that rebuild positive relationships with employees while also creating a culture of high work performance. Being compassionate doesn’t mean you can’t hold boundaries; it means there are clear expectations and open conversations that take place within a result-oriented work environment. 

  1. Make learning and demonstrating compassionate tactics a priority.
    Building a compassionate work environment that will improve work performance requires ongoing education and trial and error. “Build in public” and let employees know you’re specifically working on better understanding how to compassionately meet their needs. 
  2. Don’t make assumptions about what matters to your team.
    As a part of that learning, make an effort to have individual conversations and collect assessable data about what actually matters to your team. Don’t just assume you know what compassion means to them, or you could end up making unilateral moves that are a sacrifice on your part and don’t even make your employees feel seen and heard in the right way. 
  3. Collaborate with individuals to create solutions that work for everyone.
    When you have an employee in a difficult situation, the best way to offer a compassionate response that drives their best work performance is to create a solution together. Rather than pushing a basic work performance plan, sit down and really talk to that person. Understand what their needs are, present the needs you have to ask of them, and figure out the way forward together. 
  4. Acknowledge your own humanity, and you will foster honesty and transparency in return.
    If you don’t know the answer, or aren’t sure of the best way to handle a situation, be open about  that rather than pretending or blustering. Revealing your humanity to your employees in appropriate ways builds an environment where they feel like they can be transparent in return. And if an employee tells you something difficult or lets you know about a personal hardship, ensure you offer a compassionate response that makes them feel rewarded for being open with you rather than keeping things secretive.

Becoming a more compassionate leader requires managers to strike a cautious balance between care for the employee as a person and commitment to institutional goals. While driving high work performance may be challenging, it is possible with the right training and approach, and worth it for the rippling benefits it brings to leaders, employees, and companies alike.

There’s been a lot of hype about Gen Z. As they join the world of work, they are questioning existing norms and resetting expectations. What does this mean for the future of work?

Even if we may not always want to admit it, each generation has different priorities and expectations that feel disruptive to prior generations. This disruption has the potential to make us all better. Instead of criticizing each new generation, we can ask ourselves how to leverage and how to learn from them.

Let’s first look at what is top of mind for Gen Zs when it comes to their career:

  • They lean on values when making career decisions: 49% of Gen Zs are guided by their personal ethics when choosing the work they want to do and the companies they want to work for.
  • Wellbeing needs to be the norm, not a perk: Nearly half of the young adults have experienced a decline in their mental health during the pandemic, impacting their ability to interact and relate with others. 66% of Gen Zs want a culture that considers mental health and wellness. 
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) are front and centre: Gen Zs are the most diverse generation yet: 48% of Gen Zs are non-white and 1 in 5 Gen Z adult identifies as part of the LGBTQI+ community in the US.
  • Career development is a priority: 76% of Gen Zs believe that learning is key for a successful career and is one of the top two reasons they would choose to stay with their current company.

How can companies build a positive work environment that supports the needs and expectations of their young talent?

Set your new hires up for success: According to Gallup’s onboarding report, employees who have a positive onboarding experience are 2.6x more likely to feel satisfied with their workplace and to stay. One way to effectively onboard your Gen Zs is by connecting them to a buddy, coach and/or mentor during their first year. This helps new employees integrate into the culture of the company. 

Provide engaging learning & development opportunities: Gen Zs are in the early stages of their careers and are eager to learn. 43% of Gen Zs prefer a self-directed and independent approach to learning. They want something that supports them based on their personal situation and goals. Providing personalized development resources has a higher impact. 

Find ways to connect: With many having to work from home during the pandemic as they were starting their career, it is not surprising that this generation is feeling disconnected. Working remotely can limit opportunities for team bonding and professional development. To mitigate that, you can organize networking events that allow Gen Zs to build their professional network. 

Take a bottom-up approach to culture: 32% of Gen Zs complain that decisions are top-down and companies often fail to act on feedback. Gen Zs want workplaces to be inclusive and want to have more agency in shaping culture. To be more inclusive and drive a sense of belonging, listen to your employees across all levels, and take steps to act on their feedback. 

Support their wellbeing: Fostering wellbeing at work goes beyond one-off initiatives, programs or policies. Companies should provide support that helps their people bring their healthiest self at work. This could mean having flexible working policies, which 77% of Gen Zs prefer.

Gen Zs are paving the way for change. They want to do work that is meaningful, at a company that makes a difference and provides them with a positive environment where they can thrive. By being empathetic to their needs and priorities, companies stand to benefit from Gen Zs’ fresh perspective and new and innovative ways of working.

Many companies today are implementing initiatives to build a culture of inclusion but progress has been slow. Data from a BCG study shows that current inclusive team culture initiatives benefit only about 25% of underrepresented employees.

This poses a big challenge for companies because:
Employee expectations around an inclusive culture at work are increasing. Millennials and Gen Z, who make up the majority of today’s workforce, want their leaders to embrace their diverse needs and identities. If companies want to hire and retain talent, they need to do more to build and sustain inclusive cultures.

There is a heavy cost to employees feeling like they don’t fit in. According to a Mckinsey report 51% of employees cite lack of belonging as a reason for quitting their jobs. This increases your costs since replacing an employee is 1.5 to 2 times their annual salary.

Having policies on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is not enough to shift culture. It is each employee’s everyday actions that drive inclusion and belonging. Accountability at all levels, not just the top, is vital in driving change and contributing to the success of DE&I initiatives.

Here are some ways we can all take ownership and help build a culture of inclusion and belonging:

Senior Leaders:
When senior leaders show their authentic commitment towards DE&I, they set a positive example for everyone to also do their part. A study showed that teams with inclusive leaders are 17% more likely to report high performance, 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions, and 29% more likely to work collaboratively. A few things you, as a senior leader, can do to champion DE&I:

Set the tone: Demonstrate your commitment both through words and actions. Transparently communicate your vision for building a culture of inclusion, what you will be doing to support it and the outcomes you want to achieve.

Leverage Data: Metrics are key. Collect feedback across the company and analyze the data to evaluate where you currently stand with DE&I. This will also help you identify and set the right goals, drive accountability and consistently measure progress.

Check for bias: Inclusive leaders acknowledge that unconscious biases can come up in everyday interactions and can impact decisions like hiring and promotions. This might keep certain people from advancing through the ranks, and the company misses out on leveraging the potential of all employees. One way you can take action to mitigate bias is by setting objective criteria to evaluate people for hiring and promotion decisions.

Managers:
Managers have a strong influence on their team’s day-to-day experiences at work. They play a critical role in implementing large scale cultural changes, including DE&I initiatives. Research shows that creating psychological safety is key to unlocking the benefits of equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It also helps build an inclusive environment that drives a sense of belonging. A few ways you, as a manager, can do this:

Model openness and vulnerability: Be open about your own challenges and failures and encourage candid conversations from team members. This inspires trust and members feel safe opening up about their experiences and needs.

Value every voice: Ensure meetings and informal discussions are inclusive, where everyone has the opportunity to participate. This helps you unleash everyone’s creativity and benefit from diverse perspectives.

Check-in to prevent check-outs: Every team member wants to feel seen and heard. Conduct regular one-on-one check-ins and employ a coaching style of management to more effectively support your team.

Colleagues:
Colleagues play an important role in building a culture of inclusion and belonging at work. One way you can be an inclusive colleague is by showing up as an ally. People with at least one ally at work are twice as likely to feel satisfied with their job and feel like they belong. A few ways you can do this:

Identify your privilege: Being an ally requires acknowledging the advantages, opportunities and power you automatically have, that others may have been denied. This is important as it helps you understand how you can use your privilege to advocate for and support your colleagues with lesser visibility.

Learn: Take time to educate yourself about your colleagues’ experiences by observing and truly listening. This will help you understand and be attuned to your colleagues’ unique experiences and perspectives.

Amplify: Openly acknowledge accomplishments made by your colleagues. Amplify ideas and solutions that your colleagues present during discussions, especially those who may not speak up very often – “Sarah had an interesting idea…”. This ensures that perspectives are not only shaped by a few people and everyone’s views are taken into account.

When employees don’t feel included, they leave their authentic selves at the door. This stifles engagement, productivity and innovation. To build and sustain a culture of inclusion, employees at all levels need to take ownership and be part of the solution.

Employee disengagement and turnover cost US companies US$1.35 trillion last year.

Employee disengagement and turnover cost US companies US$1.35 trillion last year. To address this, last year, companies spent US$ 357.7 billion globally and US$167 billion in the US alone because professional learning & development is the number one way to engage and retain employees. Companies also invest in wellbeing initiatives that have an important but limited impact on performance and employee engagement. Given the scale of the problem, it is obvious that companies do not spend enough to enhance their employee experience and/or do not spend it well.

The key challenges with the current learning and development programs offered are that 1) they are not used, and 2) they fail to have the desired impact on employee engagement and retention. Most of a learning and development budget goes into training programs. With traditional training programs, only about 20% of the information is retained after 30 days. Training fails to account for the differences in experience, learning style and development needs of people. This reduces its impact as people may not be able to personally apply the learnings to their own work.

What needs to change?

L&D programs tend to have a one size fits all approach. The key challenges with this are:

  1. Today’s workforce is more diverse than before, including more diverse learning needs and preferences. 
  2. 58% of employees prefer to learn at their own pace
  3. People are focused on continuous learning, not one-off training sessions. 
  4. The opportunities just aren’t there – 94% of employees would stay longer if their company met their learning and development needs

The most impactful L&D program is one that is hyper-tailored, taking into account both the employee’s unique characteristics and the company’s objectives. Until recently, hyper-tailored learning was viewed as expensive and difficult to implement at scale. Technology and business model innovation has now made this possible.

What are the benefits of hyper-tailoring learning and development programs in the workplace?

Improve performance
70% of employees feel they do not have the necessary skills to do their job.  In response to this, 2 out of 3 companies are looking to bridge the skills gap through development initiatives. Hyper-tailored development can more effectively target the skill gaps of each employee. It is also a quicker way to get results, directly impacting your company’s bottom line.

Boost retention
Employees want more than just a paycheck. Lack of career development opportunities is the number one reason why people leave their job. A tailored L&D program helps target every employee’s unique development needs, making them more inclined to stay.

Address diverse learning styles
People have different preferences when it comes to learning new skills. Some might be visual learners, while others may be auditory learners. Visual learners may better understand and retain information presented through video, and auditory learners get more from podcasts. Tailoring learning to adapt to these different preferences helps make resources more impactful, and more likely to be used by employees.

Fuel Agility
In today’s fast-paced world, skills can quickly become redundant. New skills have to be continuously developed, so companies need to foster a continuous learning environment. Tailored development opportunities ensure that employees have access to truly relevant learning resources, which means that people will actually use them.

Here are some ways companies can hyper-tailor their L&D program offerings:

Make it data-driven
Effective data analytics is key in tailoring L&D. Collecting and analysing data using a variety of metrics will help companies better tailor their development offerings to their employees’ and company’s needs.

Offer coaching
One-on-one coaching is the Rolls-Royce of professional development. It is a self-directed process where people identify their own objectives and work with their coach at their own pace to problem-solve and develop. Technology innovation has made it possible to provide coaching from your intern to your CEO. Sama works with elite coaches globally, vetted by industry and coaching professionals, to provide coaching at scale.

Facilitate mentoring
Mentoring provides highly personalised and effective development. Mentors provide advice and feedback catering to an individual’s specific development needs and goals. 

Go digital
Digital learning can help employees tune in to resources, whenever and wherever they want. As the world of work becomes increasingly digital, it’s essential to adapt learning and development offerings. 

Empower your employees to own their development
Over 40% of Millenials and Gen Z want employee-led learning. Give employees the ability to shape their learning and development. One way of doing this is to ask employees for their feedback on learning programs, through company-wide surveys or focus group discussions. This can help you provide offerings that are more impactful.

Learning is key to thriving and creating competitive differentiation. Disrupting the traditional approach to L&D programs for one that puts employees more in control of their learning is a sure way to engage employees and create a future-ready workplace.

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
– Peter Drucker

You can be a great manager, but are you good at being an effective leader? Have you ever thought of what kind of a leader you would like to be?

What is the difference between leading and managing?

A strong manager successfully plans, coordinates and sets up processes and structures that help their team accomplish specific goals. Being a strong manager is different from being a leader. Leaders go beyond managing day-to-day tasks and “hitting the numbers”. Generally, we think of managers as being task-focused, driving action through a plan. Leaders drive people to action through a compelling vision. Leaders align their teams towards a common vision, empowering and inspiring their teams to unlock their full potential. This leads to high performance, creativity and innovation.

With the right mindset anyone can develop effective leadership styles at work. Here’s how you can:

Build empathy
Studies show that empathy positively impacts innovation, engagement and boosts retention. Empathetic leaders invest in building relationships with their teams. They are interested in learning what is important to their team and what sets them up for success. Take steps to understand your team’s motives. What influences them to behave in certain ways? Give people the opportunity to share their perspectives and backgrounds by asking questions and genuinely listening. When you take the time to engage with people and give them the space to share thoughts and experiences, it makes them feel heard, valued and establishes strong bonds.

Evangelise
Leaders are driven by a higher purpose. When you become an effective evangelist, you don’t just promote the work you and your team does; you explain how the work makes a positive difference. Being an effective leader means inspiring your team with a common purpose. This makes their work more meaningful and motivates them to take action. One way you can be a successful evangelist is by developing and communicating a coherent message of purpose – both within and outside the company. Seize opportunities to spread awareness of what your team and company do, and the positive impact it can have.

Recognise and celebrate your people
A study by BCG found that the number one factor of happiness at work was feeling appreciated. Research also shows that social rewards such as being recognised and appreciated for your work have the same impact as financial rewards. Being an effective leader means recognising people for the value they bring, as it motivates them and reinforces the positive behaviours that lead to successful outcomes.

Bring out the best in your people
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, posits that leaders must shift from a “know it all” to a “learn it all” mindset. Being an effective leader means you value the importance of learning and development – for themselves as well as for their colleagues. One solution is to give your team the opportunity to own their learning and development. Ask your team for their input on skills they would like to build or resources that could truly support them. This will allow you to offer impactful development tools that will be used.

Free up your time – and mind
As a leader who juggles multiple tasks and responsibilities, it is easy to get roped into day-to-day tasks with no breaks. This might leave you feeling overwhelmed, with little time for creativity or strategising. Studies suggest that when you free up time and let your mind wander, it boosts creativity. Being an effective leader doesn’t mean you don’t feel stress or anxiety at work, many leaders experience this, too. Be disciplined about carving out time daily to create some mental space by, for example, meditating, taking a walk, or journaling.

Embrace ambiguity
Leaders recognise that ambiguity is inevitable and constant because of the complex world we operate in. To successfully embrace ambiguity, start by acknowledging your own limitations. Being intentional in reaching out to your network of experts for their perspectives can help you enrich your knowledge and better navigate ambiguous situations.

Most managers develop their own style of leadership based on factors like experience and company culture, as well as the unique needs of their company and its organisational structure. Being an effective leader doesn’t mean fixating on just one leadership style. There are various effective leadership styles that result in increased employee happiness, engagement, and retention rates. By consciously taking steps to shape your mindset, empowering and inspiring your people, you can become an impactful leader that builds a team that works with you, not for you.

How team performance can supercharge your company’s growth.

Have you ever wondered what highly successful teams look like? How do they come together and work in ways that maximize companies’ growth?

Building high performing teams means bringing together individuals with complementary strengths and skills. Such teams are committed to a common purpose and share accountability for a set of objectives. This leads to better problem solving, innovative ideas and increased productivity.

How can you create teams that are greater than the sum of their parts? As a leader, you have to ensure that the right elements are in place to enable team members to reach their full potential.

How to build a high performing team

Align your teams around shared values and purpose
When building high performing teams, align your teams around shared values and purpose. Characteristics of high performing teams include being united by their company values and purpose. Shared values and purpose help teams adapt and thrive in uncertain situations. To create alignment, first identify, define and agree on the core set of values. Then consider how behaviours will follow the values you establish. Continuously recognise and celebrate behaviours and actions that demonstrate the values and bring you closer to fulfilling your purpose, both as a team and organisation.

Set SMART objectives
The most effective teams are able to translate their overall purpose into specific team performance goals. Setting SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound – are a great way for teams to achieve both big and small wins that help them pursue their broader purpose. SMART goals help facilitate clear communication, keep track of progress and hold each team member accountable. You can also include some stretch goals that drive teams to accomplish more than they initially set out to achieve, which sets the stage for high performance.

Focus on continuous development
Gallup’s research shows that companies that invest in developing their teams report 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees. One-on-one coaching, which takes a hyper-tailored approach to development, is the most powerful resource that you can provide to your teams. Coaches engage with team members to help them map out their unique strengths and improve their self-awareness. This results in better team collaboration, communication, engagement and performance.

Set up shared leadership
Shared leadership is when every team member is empowered to make decisions and take actions that impact their own work as well as their team’s. Influence and power are distributed across the team. Research has shown that teams where leadership is shared, rather than vested in the hands of a few, have improved performance. There are a few ways you can lay the foundations for shared leadership. One way is to give your team members enough autonomy on how they plan and work on their tasks. Another way is to cultivate a climate where people feel free to take initiatives. Empowering people to take ownership of their work creates a greater sense of commitment and increases performance.

Make open dialogue the norm
In order to perform at the highest level, teams should feel safe to express their ideas and views candidly, and to constructively challenge one another. Cultivating psychological safety is key. Research shows that this promotes creativity and constructive conflict which leads to innovation and better performance. As a team manager, you are responsible for creating a safe space where your team feels comfortable with conflict and debate. You can create a climate that is safe and conducive to high performance by ensuring that every team member has value and a voice, and that differences of opinions are shared respectfully.

Foster personal connections
Fostering personal bonds at work helps team members establish deep connections that make your team more cohesive, engaged and collaborate better. Studies suggest that high performing team members spend time exchanging on personal interests and non-work related matters. There are a few ways to encourage your teams to build authentic connections. Schedule team-wide breaks or lunches during the week to come together. If your team is remote, schedule regular virtual bonding sessions.

Building high performing teams can provide a powerful competitive advantage. You can lay the foundations of building such teams by uniting members through a common purpose and goals, introducing and promoting a culture of healthy dialogue, fostering deep connections as well as committing to continuously developing teams. This inspires high team performance and motivates the team to continuously succeed.