LP Gas

Boosting your company’s productivity

I remember the day my Little League coach told me he wanted me to play shortstop because he thought I was one of the better fielders on the team.

It was a pivotal moment. Up until then, I hadn’t considered myself a better or worse fielder than anyone else on my team. Because my coach put his trust in me, I made sure nothing got by me all season. I’d dive after balls, block bad hops with my face and do whatever was needed to make the play. His faith in my ability inspired me, and I wasn’t going to let him down.

There are all types of managerial styles, but the one I know for sure works the best is trusting in your team. Research shows that supervisors play a crucial role in employee well-being and engagement. This engagement, in turn, has strong links to key business outcomes, including retention, productivity, profitability, customer engagement and safety.

Pete Carroll, the Seattle Seahawks’ coach, believes that while you can motivate some people with fear, you can motivate more people by believing in them and discerning what they need to perform well. His assertion is that giving support by providing space for the individual development of each person and communicating that your ultimate goal is a team that performs with excellence will drive results.

Let’s be brutally honest at this point: If you’re in a managerial role, you likely have a good amount of stress and sometimes the “trusting in your team” philosophy seems a little sugary in the face of all that’s bearing down on you. It’s a symbiotic relationship where you need your team and your team needs you.

Positive managers don’t make catastrophes out of setbacks, and they don’t fly off the handle. Rather, they see problems as opportunities. Managers need to use a strength-based approach, maintain a positive perspective when difficulties arise and provide frequent recognition and encouragement.

I had another baseball coach who would ask us “How do you eat an elephant?” when we were down by three or more runs. The answer is “one bite at a time.” He wouldn’t panic. Instead, he had us focus on each individual’s responsibility in getting back in the game. He didn’t expect anyone to hit a home run, but he hoped to see us make little achievements.

As John Wooden, legendary basketball coach, once said, “When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. Don’t look for the quick, big improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens, and when it happens, it lasts.”

As managers, the ability to lead your team through tough times is why you make the big bucks. All teams take their cues from their leader, and please believe me that your team is very perceptive. Just like you, they have their own opinions about your potential and ability. Some of it is just as deserved or undeserved as your opinion of them. What cuts through all of this sociology is a leader who can connect with members on their terms and provide individual plans for helping the team accomplish its goal.

The best managers I’ve ever worked for weren’t doing it solely for the lucrative paycheck, and they certainly weren’t doing it for the title. One of their founding principles was to connect with people and serve. At the end of the day, good managers really need to provide the tools and the environment to allow their team to overachieve. And when there’s success, it’s because the team pulled together and did great things. If a setback occurs, the manager steps in and protects his team.

Your team members are capable of a lot or next to nothing, depending on what you ask of them and how you ask them. Take a genuine interest in each team member’s aspirations – personally and professionally – and you might start to see positive results.

 

John Rosen is the vice president of sales for Vertrax Inc. Contact him at jrosen@vertrax.com or 203-401-6071.

Photo: iStockphoto/PIKSEL