It's that time of year when we all start thinking about New Year's resolutions and goals. A great question is how can I live and lead with my professional tribe with more intention? Here are three tips to get you started!
Over the years, I've seen it all - strong goals, weak goals, confusing goals, employees with no goals, and employees with 15 goals. Employees with goals for projects that have been canceled. Employees with goals who understand the strategy and employees who don't understand the strategy. I have also heard time and time again leaders sigh in frustration that people are just not working and thinking strategically.
A global research study I read the other day said that only 10% of employees understand their company's strategy, and only 40% of managers clearly understand it.
I have coached many bewildered employees who want to do their best, but they need clarification on where they are heading and how they can support the organization's strategy. But let's be honest; creating and implementing a strategy can be complex, and staying focused when you're barraged with day-to-day operations is even more complicated.
For Leaders: If you create the strategy, communicate it. When you don't, you are forcing your people to work in ways that, more likely than not, will be unproductive. They need context only you can give to work in ways that matter.
For Employees: If you need help creating or understanding the strategy, ask until you know. You need to understand where your organization or team is going so you can work in ways that matter. You have more to gain than you have to lose. So ask.
The number one impediment to building strong tribe relationships is time, and work relationships are no exception. When I work with leaders, they often share that their greatest struggle is balancing their work and connecting with their team. I have lived the struggle. However, the reality is there is nothing more important than connecting in ways that matter with your direct report or boss. Think of it as going slow to go fast. When you take the time to connect, you build rapport and remove barriers impacting productivity.
As you kick off the new year, please spend some time thinking about the critical meetings you need each year and schedule them. At least if they are on the schedule, they stand a chance of happening. They stand zero chance if they are not!
For Leaders: Here are just a few connection meetings you should think about scheduling: strategy meetings and sessions, performance review meetings, team meetings, and meetings or events to network with your professional tribe.
For Employees: You can ask to schedule meetings as well. Here are a few to consider—regular check-ins and development/career planning meetings. You may also want to think about the professional tribe you want to build and then pencil a few into your diary. Why not start with three meetings in quarter 1?
In her book Why Simple Wins, Lisa Bodell cites a Bain study that found that the average mid-level manager or front-line employee works 47 hours weekly. Of those 47 hours, twenty-one are spent in meetings with four or more people, and eleven hours are spent on emails and other electronic communications. If you do the math, that leaves less than fifteen hours to do everything else. Suppose you shave off some time for meetings and unproductive time. That leaves workers with 6 ½ hours or less for productive time. That is a lot of time, which makes a case for thinking about how you can work more intentionally with your tribe in 2023!
For Leaders: Carve out some time to think about the unproductive meetings, reports, and activities that may be causing your team to work unproductively. Even better, invite the whole team to weigh in and commit to making at least one or two of the recommendations happen.
For Employees: Spend some time thinking about how you might be able to approach your work differently so that it saves time or resources. Make a recommendation to your boss.
Leading with our work tribe is about tradeoffs, which are not easy! However, taking the time to figure out what you can get rid of, to create more time to focus and connect is always challenging. A new year is an excellent time to carve out time to think and plan so that you make 2023 your best year yet and work in ways that matter.
Leah Dean is a coach, speaker, author, and former HR executive who has worked with leaders across the globe to build high-performing teams, aka tribes, for over twenty years. Today, Leah works with women from all walks of life but is most passionate about helping women leaders show up with confidence and deliver exceptional business results. To learn more about Leah's work, her best-selling book Assemble the Tribe, or join The Tribe Advantage Leadership Program, visit www.leahjmdean.com. Leah lives in Bermuda with her husband and two children.