You have an amazing, brilliant team!
How do nurture the best ideas from them?
First, create a safe environment and a trusting culture for your team. Role model this by being honest and respectful.
Once you have a trusting team, then you can set the norm of “constructive conflict” in which people are expected to respectfully debate ideas.
These are bedrock actions for building a high performance team as outlined by Patrick Lencioni in his excellent book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
Once you have done this, then you need to build a relationship with your team so they will provide you with the best input and feedback possible. Here are five things you can do to get the best from your team members, as suggested in a recent article in Harvard Business Review:
1. Be Curious. Assume that other people have new, different, excellent ideas that you have not thought about. Go into your meetings listening for that.
2. Radiate Resilience. Make sure that your team knows that you can handle negative feedback – even to your own ideas! Maybe do some mindfulness meditation before the meeting.
3. Ask Quality Questions. Don’t just ask “what do you think?” Hone in on what you really want to know, for example: “What do you think are the core issues for our project delays?” “What do you think we could do to solve this?” and “What am I missing from our plan of action?”
4. Listen wholistically. Don’t just listen to the content of the response to your questions. Listen for their emotions. How do they feel? Listen to the background – where are they coming from? What is their perspective?
5. Reflect and Reconnect. Take some time after you meet with a team member and honestly reflect on their ideas. Don’t go with your initial gut reactions. Imagine there is gold in their ideas – even if not immediately obvious. After some time, meet once again with the team member to share your takeaways – and what you are going to do about it.
Unlocking the talent of your team is a key leadership activity in our fast-paced environment. The more you can do to facilitate and unleash this talent, the much greater Mission Impact you will be making.
*Ideas for this blog taken from: Wetzler, J. “How to Get the Honest Input You Need from Your Employees,” Harvard Business Review online, December 18, 2023.