With today’s business world evolving and companies demanding their teams to do more and exceed over last year all with smaller teams and less resources, it becomes more and more important to have good leadership in place. If you are reading this, you are either a manager looking for a new and better way to manager your team, or someone aspiring to be a manager who wants to run their team better than your current manager is doing…cause if things were going so great, you probably wouldn’t be looking for new ways to manage (or be managed).
I like to look at managing a team like playing a game of Tetris. There are multiple needs and goals of a team and the people on the team help to fill in the space and meet those goals. If a manager can’t manage a team well, it’s like letting all of the Tetris pieces stacking up along the middle or leaving big gaps that in essence leaves the team in a spot where they haven’t met the majority of the goals and are out of time. It all looks like a hot mess and leaves others within the organization wondering why the team can’t be managed with some strategy.
Let’s first look at how many managers are currently managing their teams: A manager for a team of 7 people might structure their team like this. Each person has probably been looked at and assigned a role “a piece” that they will live up to. Here’s an example of how it might be done:
Here is what the manager might think of the pieces and how they are currently able to work on the team to meet the goals and strategy of the projects.
When this is what a manager structures their team like this, it pigeon holes individual people into a roles – that although they are good at what they are assigned and trained on (and can execute it well) – it does not allow them to grow and become a more versatile piece. And it doesn’t just impact them and their future career; think about the future of the team. If they are a specialist now, what happens when the assistant manager leaves? Is that person able to easily going to move into that next role? Nope. They don’t have the experience yet- and by no fault of their own. They have done a always done a great job at everything that was asked of them, but they haven’t been asked to step out of their comfort zone to work on growing and developing into a more versatile piece.
Here’s a new way to start thinking of a team and the members that make up that team. Instead of looking at an employee for the “shape” they currently are based on experience and “branding” them into a role based on that, think of everyone as the 4 blocks that make up a piece. Every Tetris piece is made up of 4 equal size squares that are placed strategically in an order to form each shape in Tetris. A manager, with training and time, can have their team members flexible enough to move those blocks around in any order to be adaptive to the needs of the team and organization. But the key to that happening is a manager finding time to train and develop their team to make them as successful as they can be. Without that key word of TIME, all is lost and an employee will either continue being successful in the role you have branded them as (and do that until they realize that another company will hire them and develop them into what they CAN be and not only what they are) or they will realize that right away and leave to go find a company that will develop them. Because ALL good employees -no matter what department or area of expertise- is looking for new challenges and ways to grow… Or else they wouldn’t really be considered good after all.
I hope as a manager, you are already taking this approach with your team. If you aren’t already managing a team this way, hopefully you will try this and see how it works. Spending time with your team and developing them is the most important thing that a manager can do. Make sure you see each team member as a flexible piece that can be shaped and developed into a well-rounded and versatile member of the team.