7 Ways to Be the Employee You Want to Have

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Anytime I am with leaders (which is most days), I will get asked some version of this question: “How do I get my team members (or a specific team member) to do x?” It is framed as a question about coaching, and is either asked from a genuinely curious perspective or from a semi-sarcastic, resigned-to-defeat perspective. However it is asked, I can provide some ideas from a coaching perspective, and typically do. What I less often say, at least in an initial conversation, is the other half of what the questioner needs to hear.

This article is that other half.

If you want your team members to act in certain ways, look at your own behavior first. If your behavior doesn’t match what you are asking of them, the ability for you to influence their behavior will be drastically reduced. What follows are some of the things I hear people placing at the end of the question above – the things they want to coach their team members to be better at.

Before you start nodding your head and thinking about the members of your team that you would like to improve in these areas, start with yourself. How good of an example do you set in these same areas?

Be proactive. When people care about their work and the results, when they have a sense of ownership in their work and the results of the team, when they feel empowered, they will be proactive. They will step up to take on tasks; they will see things wrong and choose to address them. How well does this define you?

Listen better. Listening is a key to communication, and a key to building relationships – two of the most critical things needed in any workplace. The challenge here isn’t one of skill – people know how to listen effectively – it is a problem of habit – we just don’t do it often enough. You can tell people why this is important, or you can show them by shutting up (more often) and listening. How good of a listener are you with your team?

Expect the best in others. When people expect the best in others, relationships will be stronger, trust will be higher and conflict will be reduced in scope, frequency and severity. People will mess up, but the overriding belief people have in each other can have huge impacts on the work and the workplace. What do you expect of others?

Manage your time better. We all have the same 1,440 minutes per day and the same number of minutes we are expected to be working. It isn’t about the minutes, it is about how they are used. The more focused people are, the clearer they are on their work and outcomes, the better habits they have, and the more productive they can become. How well do you use your time?

Be growing. The world and the world of work is changing. Organizations need more and different things from their team members, and so the employees you want on your team are looking to learn and grow. They might seek out new opportunities, they might desire training, they might be reading everyday. Whatever the mode and whatever the motivations, you want a team who wants to learn, grow and improve. Do you (and do your actions show it)?

Be positive. If I had a dime for every time a leader lamented to me about negative attitudes of their team, I might retire. We all know attitude matters. And the most important and more impressible attitude on your team is yours. How is it?

Your choice. There is a long list of behaviors I could have included here. Most important is for you to think about the one you think I left out. What is the skill, behavior or attitude you want your team members to be exhibiting, that they aren’t? Define it clearly, then look in the mirror and see if you are a shining example of that for them.

Regardless of your industry or the nature of your team’s work, if you had a team who did the things above well, you (and your team) would likely be extremely successful.

How are you doing on these things?

You might have a sense of your habits and effectiveness in these areas, and perhaps this article has already given you pause to think about improving in one or more of these areas. If so, great!

But there is more to consider here. As human beings our perspective and judgment about ourselves, while important, isn’t complete. We have blind spots – both in terms of things others think we need to improve, and things they believe we are more effective at than we might realize. So, while doing the mental exercise I am suggesting here is important, it is likely limited in its long-term value, simply because our perspective is limited.

My advice?

Listen carefully to what your intuition is telling you as you read through the list above and then look in the mirror. Take action on your observations – work to truly be the employee you want on your team. And if you are serious about continuing your growth, consider a 360 leadership assessment with coaching. If your organization has a process for doing that, seek it out.

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