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Jamie Flinchbaugh of JFlinch: 5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team

People need empowerment and engagement, but they also need direction and purpose. Managers recognize the need for empowerment, but take it too far and end up abdicating responsibility to their team. Then when the team, or an individual fails, it is still their failure instead of management’s failure. Empowering people requires that we set them up for success with the required skills, information, perspective or whatever they need to make it work.

  1. Establish a team culture. Whether this focuses on a single core behavior or ends up as a whole set of rules, how people behave is a massive leverage point. As a leader of a team, no matter how many other influences there are, you are the greatest impact on shaping behavior. Everything you say, do, and decide creates experiences that in turn, shape people’s beliefs and their behaviors. You will either end up with an accidental culture, perhaps one you don’t want, or a deliberately designed purposeful culture that you have helped to bring about.
  2. Create tension, not stress. Stress is knowing that where we are is not acceptable, and we don’t know what to do about it. Many people, and many teams, are under stress these days. Tension is still uncomfortable, but is quite a different energy. Tension is knowing where you are and understanding why, knowing what good looks like, and having at least steps to start to close the gaps. If I drop you off in the middle of the woods blindfolded, that will be stress. If I drop you off in the middle of the woods with a map, show you where you are on that map, point out where you need to be, and at least in which direction to start walking, you still have a lot of work to do but you have much better energy towards getting it done.
  3. Build a core of trust. Trust is a raw input to almost any team’s success. No matter what the larger organization is doing, a manager can either build or destroy trust through their own actions. There are four key ingredients to building trust that I call the 4Cs. Demonstrate that you Care, Communicate the way of what is going on, build or grow the Capabilities needed so that we can be successful, and finally do all three of those with Consistency.
  4. Create space to make improvement happen. Problems happen. If teams have no slack, permission, or mechanism to engage with problems and drive improvements, why should they have hope that tomorrow will be a better day. We might be waiting for someone to show the initiative to make something happen, but their initiative is against the momentum to not improve. Leaders must create time and space to help solve problems, otherwise your direction and purpose will never be fulfilled on a consistent basis.

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