Join Mike Figliuolo for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating stretch assignments, part of Building High-Performance Teams.
- As you're thinking about developing the members of your team, part of your responsibility as their leader is to stretch them and help them build capabilities. You'll have to give them assignments and tasks they're not familiar with, and they might not be comfortable with them. That requires that you take some risks as their leader, but they need to be calculated risks. Remember, the reason that your team members are coming to work every day is they want to grow, they want to develop, they're not there because of their boss, or for the money, they're there for the challenge, especially people who gravitate toward high performing teams.
So as you think about stretching your people, think about the roles and responsibilities you give them, and they should be able to do 70 percent of that work very, very easily. It's that incremental 30 percent where you're asking them to grow and to stretch. Because if you can help them stretch, that gives you the opportunity to stretch and grow yourself, which makes you more valuable to the organization and to your boss. And by the way, if you're stretching and growing then your boss can stretch and grow, and ultimately the entire organization benefits from that approach.
So as you think about stretching and growth, I like to offer a very simple construct for doing so. So let's imagine these three bars represent your team members, and you, and your boss, for example. And the solid parts of the bars are tasks and activities that that individual is very comfortable doing. So for your team members, these are going to be the routine tasks that they perform every single day, and then these might be tasks where they're very proficient and very comfortable, but they're higher levels of performance.
Similarly for you, these are the tasks you can do in your sleep. You don't even have to think about it. They're very simple and they're very comfortable. All the way up to the tasks that are at the top end of your growth spectrum. And finally your boss, these are the tasks that your boss can do very easily, all the way up to the things that your boss is slightly challenged by. Now let's think about growth, and I'd like to look at you first. Your boss is going to ask you to grow, and take on new responsibilities that you're not yet familiar with.
And by the way, some of those responsibilities your boss is asking you to take on, are things that they're already very comfortable with. So you're going to have to stretch into this space. Now, you'll only have so much bandwidth and so much capability, and as you get stretched, stress enters the equation, and you have to relieve that stress because you can't live under that stress for protracted periods of time and still perform at a high level. So you have two choices: either, you can not step up into the new responsibilities, or, you can take responsibilities off your plate that you shouldn't be doing any more.
Now what's really interesting here is if you take these responsibilities off your plate, those are growth opportunities for the members of your team, and you can allow them to stretch into those new areas. One critical aspect of that is, you're going to have to relieve them or ask them to relieve themselves of responsibilities that are consuming their time and energy, otherwise you're going to put undue stress on the members of your team. Allow me to offer an example of this.
There's an individual, and I was working with him as his executive coach. When he and I first started working together, I asked what he was working on, and he explained his day to day. His day to day was filled with things like doing e-mails, scheduling meetings, scheduling staffing for the members of his organization, when people were going to be on duty and off duty, and I asked him well, you're a director. When are you doing your strategic thinking, when are you doing your people development, when are you looking at the portfolio of initiatives you should be pursuing.
And I was asking him about some of those higher level functions. His response was, well I just don't have the time. So we quickly laid out this diagram, and laid out what tasks he was spending his time on. And some of those tasks like scheduling the staff and setting up and running meetings, were actually the responsibility of his team members. And I said why aren't they doing this? He said well I'm just not making them, it's easier for me to do it. But once he saw it all laid out, he understood the implications of him performing the responsibilities of the members of his team.
So by freeing up that bandwidth, and taking those tasks he shouldn't have been doing, and pushing them to the members of his team, he became more effective as a leader. So as you think about your own development, as well as the development of the members of your team, you need to understand what's the work you're doing that you're comfortable with, where's the stretch where you should be focusing your new efforts, and then, how do you shift work across those different groups so people have the opportunity to grow, including yourself.
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- Creating a compelling vision and mission for your team
- Understanding the resources your team needs to succeed
- Recruiting the right people
- Balancing workload
- Setting goals
- Empowering people
- Resolving conflict
- Building bench strength and succession plans<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.