I enjoy photography and learning how to capture better photos. I’ve been the photographer at a few low-key events, snapping away trying to catch those special photos. It’s not until later that someone asks did you get a picture of this or can I see a particular photo that you realise you didn’t capture it in the right way or didn’t get it at all. I didn’t know it was important so didn’t spend time being in the right place or thinking how to best capture the moment. I learnt a lesson, know what is important to the hosts of the event. By asking them you find out areas to concentrate on e.g. the food, certain people, a certain activity during the event. If you don’t ask, you don’t know which could lead to disappointment! There is a similarity here with tech teams – do you know what is important to the people in your teams?
We all have our own desires, what we would like to learn, where we would like our career path to go. Obviously, some of us know this in more detail than others, but we certainly know what we like and don’t like doing. In your past, have you ever been frustrated because you’re not getting the chance to do something different? This doesn’t have to be work related, it could be in a sports team not playing in your dream position or playing rhythm guitar in a band when you long to be the lead. How did this make you feel? Frustrated? Fed up? Some people voice their feelings, but many don’t, which can lead to discontentment which may only be discovered once it’s too late!
In the work environment, there is always pressure on to get projects out on schedule, we make decisions for the good of the project to give tasks to certain people who will deliver on time. This can work and at times we may not have much choice, but bringing the needs of the team into the balance is important too. Every person in the team should have a sense of worth and believe their input matters to the team.
There is a lot at stake here, motivation and morale on a team are key ingredients to performance. It can be a quick downward slope if the right attention to the team isn’t being paid. This attention is the responsibility of the leader. Not every decision will be music to the ears of each team member but each person needs to believe they will have the opportunity to work on what they enjoy. But, if the leader doesn’t know what is important to each person it will be near impossible to meet their ambitions.
It’s a simple process to find out…just ask. And one-on-ones are the perfect place! Ask questions like: What do they think is important in their role? What do they enjoy doing? What would they like to learn? You maybe be amazed by what you learn! It could be that everything you thought about a person was completely wrong. You thought you were giving them tasks they enjoyed, but….thinking is not knowing! You can only know what is important to someone by taking the time to ask them. This is closely related to my blog Do you really know your team? and emphasises the need for awareness and care that every leader should demonstrate.