Managing teams in any environment is a challenging undertaking. You’re trying to accomplish some goal as a team. But each member of the team has their own individual goals that may conflict or at least may not be in line with the team goal.
An approach that can help is to have a regular one on one meeting with each team member. These meetings are not meant to be long discussions. If they regularly exceed fifteen minutes, you may be doing it wrong and wasting valuable time for both parties.
A frequent one on one
It’s best to have a regular schedule on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The purpose is to get feedback from each team member and to provide feedback to them if there are areas where you feel they need to refocus to accomplish the team’s goals.
It’s important to keep their goals in mind as well. Focusing on their short-term and long-term goals lets them know that you want them to succeed just as much as you want the team and the project to succeed. It’s hard to expect them to dedicate any time to the team’s goals if you have no regard for their consulting career.
Even if their goals diverge from those you have for the team, you may find a way to achieve a win-win situation.
When focusing on a team member’s goal for short term growth, you want to find the common ground between their goals and those of the project they’re serving. Questions like: How do you define your personal success on this project?
Their answer may surprise you. You may find that they want to work on newer technologies and have goals you never would have considered. This may allow you to reassign them to something that interests them more and adds more value to the project.
Moreover, the team member may be surprised. Often, an employee is assigned to a project only to put in their time. They don’t think about how they can learn and grow from the assignment. They face it day-by-day and just try to get through it.
Asking them how the project can affect their personal success may prompt them to think about their short-term goals and focus on personal achievements.
Once you’ve asked them and prompted them to think about it, the next level is ‘How is it going so far?’ This makes them perform an assessment of their progress and provide feedback to you. If they feel they’re not accomplishing what they had hoped, you can help them with suggestions. If need be, you can ask them to be more patient through this phase of the project.
Long -term Success
Similarly, it’s good to ask questions like ‘How does this project fit in with your consulting career goals?’ This allows – or forces – them to think on a longer term basis. It’s good to achieve some short-term goals by the end of a project, but how can this project as a whole help them move to the next milestone in their career. Again, you might both be surprised by the answer once you compel them to think about it.
Once again, the follow up to this in subsequent meetings is ‘How is that going?’ Having a regularly scheduled checkpoint allows them to assess their personal short-term and long-term progress and provide feedback to their manager regarding their status.
The one on one goes both ways
The one on one is also an excellent vehicle to find out how you’re doing. Forcing your team members to think about their growth, performing a self-assessment and providing them with advice for the project and their careers is a great start to the one-on-one.
Asking them for feedback on how you can better serve the project and the team may give you input on how to better achieve your personal goals for the project as well as your long-term goals for your consulting career.
Feedback loops like this are a great investment in time which facilitates better performance for a project as well as for all the individual team members involved.
If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com
As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.