Some might believe that great leadership is among the traits you learn from experience. However, only a fifth of organizations claim to be effective at actually developing leaders. In reality, the journey to being a great leader begins internally, but it doesn’t hurt to have some external guidance.
Whether you’re new to the world of team management or you’re joining a new team, you might be wondering how you can be an effective leader. Below are several tips to help you build and grow your own successful planning team.
It starts with you. Always remember that you set an example for your team whether you are present or not. Before establishing what success means for your team, look internally to ensure that you embody the same notions. Be transparent with your shortcomings and always be clear with your communications. This is a critical component in gaining the respect of your team. Always say what you mean and mean what you say.
Define what success means and have a plan for getting there. Ask yourself what the goal is and how you plan on measuring it. Are there certain KPIs you’ll use to assess your team and the business? If so, establish what those are early on and stick to them. Discuss these metrics with your team frequently so that they know what is expected of them. Some KPIs favored by planning leaders include:
Tip: Remember to informally ask your team how business is doing. This grants them the opportunity to think critically about performance and also helps them develop leadership skills through effective communication.
Establish and communicate priorities. Inventory planning is a fast paced world that sometimes requires immediate responses. Without proper time management, you’ll find yourself getting overwhelmed and risk fatigue or burnout. Be realistic with your priorities and those of your team. Don’t bite off more than you can chew in order to protect focus and proper inventory management.
“If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.” — Jim Collins
Be clear on expectations and deadlines. This step is so important that we mention it twice. Specificity supports time management. There is nothing worse than spending hours on a task only to find out the request was improperly communicated. In fact, the cost of poor communication on business is in the billions. Protect the cost of wasted time by avoiding vague language and being specific with all projects and deadlines.
Give feedback often. As speaker and author Daniel Pink states, “When we make progress and get better at something, it is inherently motivating. In order for people to make progress, they have to get feedback and information on how they’re doing.” Both informal and formal feedback are important ways to grow your team and should be given often. Having these conversations can sometimes be awkward and uncomfortable. But having specific agreed upon time periods for formal feedback can help settle the uneasiness.
Quarterly recaps on performance can serve as an ideal time to cover both business and professional performance. This allows for the conversation to start well ahead of annual reviews. However, don’t shy away in cases outside of this timeline when an employee deserves recognition or constructive criticism. Doing so will help you establish open communication as a common practice rather than an oddity that warrants concern.
Don’t manage with a one-size-fits-all approach. Understand what makes your team motivated and lead accordingly. There are two main psychographics that can define employees: those who are motivated by learning, and those who are motivated by praise. Figure out what your team members feel inspired by and use these insights accordingly.
Hold everyone accountable, including yourself. Going back to the point above, saying what you mean is imperative in building trust. Setting this same expectation of your team establishes a sense of ownership and responsibility.
Display a willingness to learn. Although leaders are seen as experts in their field, there is always room for growth. The best leaders are those who recognize their shortcomings and are open to learning from their team. Doing so can encourage creative thinking and reverse mentoring, which can help you and your team grow.
Take for example the former CEO of Burberry who knew she needed to improve the relevance of the brand to Millennials in order to succeed. She encouraged ideas and opinions from her team, which ultimately led to a nearly 200% increase on profits. With an open attitude, you too can lead a successful team.
As a leader, you wear many hats: subject matter expert, project manager, counselor, teacher, and more. Ultimately, your role is to improve your team and in doing so, the business. Making your employees work lives easier is a sure way to improve their output and job satisfaction. While they strive to improve their areas of responsibility, you should be keen on clearing any obstacles in their way. Help troubleshoot problems, fend off unnecessary work, clear bottlenecks and work towards gaining resources and/or time to optimize their workload. With the right tools, attitude and strategies in place, you’ve got what you need to run a successful planning team.