As the summer has progressed this year, my five-year old has started to love the idea of helping me out with errands and chores. He's thrown mulch in the yard. He helps put gas in the car and clean the windshields. He makes himself breakfast - as long as waffles are on the menu.
It's so cute as a parent. Yet so incredibly frustrating at times.
Why? Because I've been used to doing the work. And more importantly, doing it my way.
Luckily he's my third child. I made so many mistakes with the other two that I know now that if don't allow him to learn, he'll lose interest and move on to something else.
At work, we may lead people who do the work or help us get the work done. They may be as eager my five-year-old to help. Or perhaps someone you've hired to help take work off of your plate.
With either transition, there are plenty of mistakes that we can make in helping the team accomplish goals that were once our responsibility. Maybe we don't let go because doing the work ourselves was what got us to the spot to lead people in the first place. Or we let go too much. Both moves can cause incredible amounts of confusion and frustration on both sides.
So what mistakes do we need to avoid as a person who leads people to help your team along their journey? And most importantly, what can we do instead?
We don't share the why. Your role as a leader is to make sure your team understands where the company is going. That may mean that you first need to establish company goals so that your team knows what it needs and wants to achieve. And then once established, the act of sharing and communicating those goals to the rest of the team is as important.
We don't allow the team to have a say in their goal. A goal has a lot more impact when you get to define and control it yourself. For example, You set the sales revenue goal, while your team defines how they'll reach it.
We don't measure. Goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, results-focused, and timely), but they also should also challenge. Don't allow your employee to set too high - or low of goal.
We underestimate the completion time. We forget about the work that the team needs to get done. It's not like the goal will be the only thing they'll do.
We overestimate success. We all get ambitious or excited and we over-commit to goals. Help your team member (and remind yourself to) visualize what challenges might get in the way.
We don't prioritize distractions. There are so many distractions in life, let alone work. Differentiate in your communication how this goal - versus all of the other to-do items and other priorities - is top of mind.
We don't make time for feedback and support. It feels so good to talk about a goal. But that excitement wears off so fast. Set time early and often to review progress and confirm belief that they've got this. If you don't believe in them, why would you have assigned them the goal in the first place?
We don't look past the goal. Our work is never really done. Once we solve a problem, it typically generates other problems to solve - hopefully they're just better problems to solve. Help your team look towards the bigger picture by visualizing both success and failure in the goal.
How does this list of common mistakes compare with what you do to help your team set and accomplish goals? Consider what you need to do balance your role in the process. Otherwise, you may be stuck making waffles by yourself for another year.