‘I don’t have all the answers!’

A leader doesn’t have to have all the answers. The best leaders provide facilitation and guidance so that teams and individuals can work together to overcome difficulties. These steps will help you to empower your team, improve productivity and instil a stronger sense of working together to overcome challenges.

Why involve the team?

Teams can get stuck in a culture of spending more time talking about the problems they face than fixing them. Hours can be spent talking about wanting change, and hours can be spent planning for perfection.  A few simple strategies can set you on a path to increased productivity and greater job satisfaction for everyone.

Tips for solving problems as a group

1. Prepare for the conversation: gather information and research potential solutions.

2. Send comms before the meeting: Make meetings productive and get people to turn up with the right mindset by asking them to do some preparation. NB: Make it safe. Not everyone will come prepared but lead by example by being prepared yourself and be ready with a handful of solutions.

3. Set an agenda: Badly run meetings affect the productivity of an organisation.  Make sure your meetings have a defined purpose and run to time. Use a “parking lot” to list points that people want to discuss but aren’t part of today’s agenda.

4. Practice active listening: Turn off distractions and ask probing questions. Paraphrase back to the speaker to show you are listening and show they were understood.  

5. Don’t share emotions, share points of view. Find the balance between empathising with your people whilst keeping your own emotions in check. Reach out for coaching if this is difficult for you.

6. Make sure everyone is able to contribute in a way that feels safe to them. Make language and communication methods suitable for everyone in the room. Provide an opportunity for those who are uncomfortable sharing in front of a group to participate. This may look like speaking to them beforehand or letting everybody submit thoughts ahead of time that they wish to be discussed - it’s about making sure everyone has the opportunity to be heard.

7. Be mindful of conscious and unconscious bias both yours and the team. How could this impact your decision making?

8. With every problem consider: who does this impact?  How does it impact them, what do they need to move forward? Make sure you address these issues.

9. Close the meeting by confirming the action points, timeframes and who is responsible..  Finish by asking each person what their “takeaway” is from the meeting at the end.

As the People Leader, see delegation as a strength and a way to provide opportunities for growth for your team. Your role is to kindly hold people accountable for their action items and provide support where required. Remember to celebrate the success of the team at every opportunity when progress is made. Why? Because positive feedback and a sense of achievement causes our bodies to release Oxytocin which is a feel good hormone. It gives us the reward we need when we lean into uncomfortable situations, it helps us build stronger connections with the people around us and makes it more likely that we will repeat this approach again. Create this culture of inclusive decision making and reap the rewards of the progress you can make. You can always add a reflection question to see if this approach is having a measurable impact on your people e.g., ‘today I felt included or valued at work’.