When you become a leader, you are expected to hold your team members accountable for their work. After all, what they do is also a reflection of how you lead them. It can be easy to criticize employees who yield subpar output without helping them improve. You are responsible not only for their performance, but their growth as well.
A good leader must be able to achieve a balance between being supportive and challenging. This kind of behavior is a reasonable expectation for someone in this position. For one, you have to ensure your team members’ productivity and competence. At the same time, you also need to look out for their professional development and the office morale.
How can you maintain a good relationship with your team members while making sure that they’re both contributing to the company and growing at their own pace? Let’s take a look at a few ways you can be a conscientious boss to your team.
Connect with your team
Do you spend time getting to know your team members? A leader must know how to engage with their people, find out what their motivations are, and learn more about them as persons. A recent study has shown that team members who spend six hours a week in contact with leadership are more inspired to work. Don’t underestimate the value of connecting with your team.
Show your team members that you see them not just as workhorses, but as people with interests, desires, and ambitions. By giving them your time, you prove to them that you make their wellbeing a priority as well. This will show them that as a leader, you have their backs. Nothing is more valuable than establishing an open and transparent relationship with your team members.
Move them up or out
Your team members’ career trajectories can go two ways. They are either working to towards a higher position, or working themselves out of one. When they have enough room to be independent, they also have the opportunity to rise up. Similarly, those who don’t have enough motivation will typically take themselves out of opportunities to move up on their own.
If some of your team members don’t fit into your group dynamic or can’t keep up with the progressive nature of their roles, consider letting go of them. It doesn’t matter if they’re high-performing or loved by clients. It’s important to share the same values as your team members. If they know your expectations, they should deliver. When they fail to do so, consider terminating them.
Avoid mixed messages
Given your position as a boss, expect that people are scared of you by default. You have to make sure that you keep developmental and disciplinary talks separate. Make it clear when you want to talk about helping them improve, and set things straight if you want to talk about the consequences of their missteps.
It’s easy for your team members to mistake encouraging messages of development for disciplinary directives. They will feel slighted no matter how well-meaning you thought you were. Since you’re in a leadership position, you’re the one who has to adjust. Always clarify whether you want to talk about discipline or improvement. This will make future talks easier for everyone as well, and they will always be motivated to do better.