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Four Leadership Tips to Bring Out the Best in Your Team

Four Leadership Tips to Bring Out the Best in Your Team

Creativity is the life blood of any organization. It’s what ensures the continuous innovation necessary to help a company stay ahead in a competitive world.

But creativity is not a process that always happens by itself. In a working environment that is not designed to promote and stimulate creative thinking, employees might be hesitant or even afraid to offer their ideas. Your organization might be missing out on a wealth of ideas that will promote growth simply because the right culture for creative thinking doesn’t exist.

To avoid this, you need to create a work environment that allows for novel ideas to be born and developed. As a person in any position of leadership within an organization, there are four key areas that should be addressed.

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1. Establish clear goals, but let your employees find their way to reach them.

The people working for you have to be intrigued by and interested in what they are doing in order to be motivated and have an open mind towards improving the projects they are working on.
This can’t be achieved if you are always looking over their shoulder and trying to micro-manage every small detail, not allowing any freedom in decision-making.  People tend to become hesitant, uncomfortable and even unconfident about their work in these kind of environments, which leads to little creativity and a lost opportunity to find new innovations as a project progresses.

2. Monitor their work, but remain at a distance.

When your team is working to achieve the goals set out for them, you should keep tabs on how they are progressing, but never go overboard.

There’s a thin line between being interested in their progress and intruding on their personal working approaches or trying to do their job for them. Allow them the freedom to work at their own pace, and try not to force any methods. Listen to what they need and help them overcome any hurdles they might face while progressing.

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Careful and thought-out advice might be very helpful and will help evolve ideas, but over intruding can lead to stunted creativity.

3. Make your team’s job easier, not harder.

If you want to maintain good morale and a positive outlook among your staff, be wary of criticising and controlling their efforts too much. It’s better to support their creative processes—provide them with the tools necessary and help “sell” their work to other departments, if that is needed.

This all serves to remove as many hurdles from their progress as possible, helping them to achieve their goals as fast as possible. It also enhances their confidence, knowing that their manager or superior is behind them and their ideas.

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Try to be their advocate in the organization—you have the tools to make their work easier so that they can focus on the project at hand and not worry too much about structural obstacles and issues.

4. Create and separate idea-generation and idea-evaluation processes.

Both creating and evaluating ideas are paramount to the innovation process, so there are key steps that need to be taken in order to achieve success. Don’t make the common mistake of mixing idea generation and idea evaluation. This can have a detrimental effect on the innovation process.These two must be separated because they are completely different processes.

Idea generation is a process that has to focus on quantity—at this stage, there are no bad ideas. Simply put, it’s better to have fifteen ideas to choose from than five. Additionally, if an idea is shut down at its early stages, it is not given a chance to develop into a potential breakthrough solution.

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Idea evaluation process is quite different—it focuses on working with the pool of generated ideas and evaluating their positives and negatives, trying to figure out if an idea is feasible and is compliant to the company’s resources, policies and long-term goals.

In order to achieve a creative environment in a company, leaders must acknowledge the importance of the input of their employees and always look for ways to help them generate and develop new ideas. Even if some level of oversight must be maintained, employees should be given as much freedom as possible to work towards achieving set goals using their own methods and should be encouraged to do so.

After all, a well-developed creative environment is what helps distinguish average companies from the best. In the long run, having a well defined system to ensure that employees come up with innovations is critical for a company in any competitive marketplace.

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Featured photo credit: Kerry Jardine via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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