Jason Nazar’s recent article on Forbes.com, 17 Counterintuitive Things the Most Successful People Do, focuses on unconventional methods of improvement for individuals. But after reading through the suggestions, it seems that many are very relevant to good management and could be applied to helping a team improve itself, as well. Nazar doesn’t lean on the old adages such as, “constantly self-evaluate.” Instead, he suggests putting yourself, or in these examples, your team, into what could be negative or potentially uncomfortable situations in order to foster growth. Professional growth doesn’t happen in a vacuum, so consider how some of these tips might play out as a manager implements them with his or her team.
Confront your employees and play the devil’s advocate. If the goal is to have a team that could do your job in your absence as well as their own, they need to understand the “why” of what you do and what the company does. Question them about why they are completing a task a particular way or why they assume the company is expectant about a particular project. Taking an opposing side momentarily will force your team to assess their ideas and plans critically.
Repeat mistakes, or encourage trial and error, over and over again. Offer employees the space to innovate within their own job and don’t shy away from failure. If they fail once, they probably need to fail again at the same task in order to really understand how to improve it. As Nazar says, “Sometimes, mistakes do need to be repeated if the payoff is big enough. We hardly ever learn anything truly worthwhile after one try.”
Self-sabotage and be self-critical: This is an important step “when you find yourself mired in complacency.” When in team meetings and one on ones, ask your team to justify what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. If the days at the office have been moving along relatively smoothly, question what’s going on, and seek ways to do the job even better.
Help your employees become accustomed to rejection. Rejection and negative feedback is a part of everyday life, at both work and home. A manager does nothing to serve his team if he always gives sunny reports about their ideas, plans, and performance. Little growth can take place when employees are always met with “yes,” and “of course,” and “great idea.” By rejecting ideas and giving negative feedback, you build up your employees’ resistance to it in the future and push them to come up with improved ideas and processes.
Words like “rejection,” “mistakes,” and “sabotage,” are frightening when applied to the workplace and truly counter-intuitive when thought about in terms of someone’s job. But typically, progress can’t be made without ruffling some feathers, and innovators are bound to fail at some point. Hopefully, failure, feedback, and error help employees to strengthen their resolve as well as their nerve, which will only serve them better as the working world continues to get competitive.
Would you stir the pot in your office if you felt employees were getting complacent? Let us know what you think about these unconventional ideas to strengthen your team in the comments.
IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by olliethebastard