What good can we do as managers and team leads?
The transition from individual contributor to leader can be a challenging one. As a former decision maker of the team, people were already depending on me and my work. Now suddenly I switch into a leadership position. I still was in the mode of “getting things done” and forming great solutions, just on another level now.
It is natural to want to do everything ourselves, especially at first. But then I quickly realized something: I was taking possibilities to grow from my employees. The ones I am responsible for growing and being motivated. I did not feel great. I remembered back on my path to where I was right in the moment and felt back to all the possibilities I had to take over responsibility. I felt thankful to my past superiors to give me these possibilities. So I changed my behavior and went into my day to day work with a new mindset:
The best way to build strong teams and keep people motivated is to share responsibilities and allow people to take ownership. To get there, the first step is to share the work you would have taken on yourself with others. Let them be part and let them challenge themselves. If you find it difficult at first to share responsibilities, try documenting your process and explaining it in detail. This really helped me and my colleagues to get a grip on the challenges and to share a common understanding of responsibilities and expectations.
But learning and growing takes two steps: Having the experience and then afterwards reflecting on it. When challenges you handed over are finished, take the time to review them together. When you are reviewing tasks that have been completed, ask what challenges people had along the way. Help them see their own growth. You can also ask questions about how someone would handle a new problem or what they might do differently with old ones, if given the chance. All of this helps to shine a light on the newly acquired knowledge and helps to keep the learning in mind for the future.
Most importantly I would ask you to stay positive. Praise the good work of others when you find it. Public praise is best, because others will be inspired by listening to your suggestions. You want to look at the strengths and how to overcome challenges and weaknesses they might have by using their strengths to their advantage.
Sharing responsibility allows people more ownership of their work, which leads them to be happier and more motivated. This is when you are doing your job. This is when you will be a great leader. Until then,