5 Research Backed Tips to Help You Grow Your Team

May 12, 2016

My proudest achievement throughout my career hasn’t been the contributions I made to the bottom line of the companies I worked with. It wasn’t the growth other companies achieved. Neither has it been leading a high performing team that transformed the way HR operated in that company.

In fact, looking back at my career, the one thing that I am most proud of is that out of all the people that I’ve worked with and had the pleasure of leading, at least 20 of them are now HR Directors in various companies, industries and countries. Of course most of them would’ve achieved that feat without my ‘interference’ but nothing is more satisfying than to see others grow, succeed and make an impact.

For me, the final piece of the puzzle of what defines a good leader is if you help grow your team. What good leaders should do is create a circle of trust, develop a sense of belonging, align people and help them grow to maximize their potential.

Circle of Trust - Growth

Here are 5 suggestions on what you can do to help grow your team.

1. Have the Right Intent

Leaders that prioritize growing their team members demonstrate a credible commitment to an individual’s development.

The key word here is ‘credible’.

I’ve yet to meet a boss who says he doesn’t want to develop his subordinate, however, the actions often don’t match the words. Bosses are afraid of their ‘subordinates’ taking over their jobs. The pressure of daily targets doesn’t allow them to spend time on giving opportunities or developing their team members. Some bosses simply don’t know how to do it. Rather than seeing the big developmental picture they’ll send their team member for training just to keep that individual quiet. In short, their intent is off.

2. Give Guidance

It’s often difficult for people to understand how they can grow in an organization. They primarily base their views on other people’s growth and assume that following a similar path is the only way to move up. As a leader it’s important for you to help guide your team members to understand how they can grow in the organization. Identify the different routes they can take and what they need to do to get there.

3. Provide Feedback

Providing fair, accurate and immediate feedback is a great way to help your team members to improve their performance. Many performance management systems have moved away from annual and semi-annual reviews. Weekly ‘check-ins’ on what you should do more of, less of or simply start doing are becoming more commonly practiced. Giving feedback is of course a skill that you need to train (like any other muscle). Positive intent, preparation and practice makes this skill perfect.

4. Move Out of Comfort Zone

I’ve asked people to recall a time when they made significant leaps in their personal development. Often they’ll identify a period in which they were tasked with doing something extraordinary. Something that was a huge challenge and had consequences if it didn’t materialize. Taking people out of their comfort zones is my personal drive as it challenges people to go think and operate outside their norm.

5. Focus on Strengths

It’s a mixed blessing to lead a highly diverse team. It provides different challenges and requires leaders to be highly adaptive to understanding and dealing with different personalities. On the other hand research has proven time and again that diverse teams deliver significantly better results. The best thing to do as a leader is to focus on the strengths of your team members. Adjust the organization, if necessary, to leverage employee fit and get the best out of each individual.

There’s no one-size-fits-all formula. What works for one individual’s growth will not necessarily apply to the other. As their leader, you need to do a blend of these 5 to really tap into your team’s full potential. And remember, if you help grow your team members you will, without fail, help yourself grow.

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