Your employees are expected to learn, grow and improve.
And so are you.
How do you come up with the right strategy, processes and tools to empower your team to achieve more? How do you improve yourself?
This is your responsibility, not your manager’s, not your employee’s not anyone else’s. Only yours.
Yes you are brilliant, but you always have things to learn from others. So how do you do that?
I would like to start that my personal favorite is good old books. Well actually, audiobooks. Who has time for books nowadays? I listen to audio books related to software engineering, to management, to software engineering management, psychology of different kinds. Books that are of interest to me and that give me new perspectives on things I may have thought that I have “already figured out”. I listen to audiobooks while I’m driving, while I do the dishes, while I fold the laundry, while I cook – you can go at your own pace. This has been an absolute gold mine for me and I strongly recommend and encourage everyone to learn from books or audiobooks. Yes podcasts are also fine but I have personally found books to always go deeper into subjects which helped deepening my understanding.
Your next best source of learning is your employees and peers. How do you learn from your employees? Well you need to facilitate with them the kind of relationship that is open and trusting enough where they know you never retaliate, you never act defensive and you never make it personal when they give you constructive feedback or criticism. On the contrary, you are always excited and thankful for receiving such feedback. One opportunity to receive this feedback is during your “Team feedback collection ritual” (See Giving your employees the gift of peer feedback). Another obvious opportunity is during your 1:1s discussions, which I personally then gather feedback that is more targeted on specific team meetings, processes and tools. One more great opportunity to receive this feedback is during your team’s Retrospective or Brainstorming meetings.
Another obvious important source of learning is your direct manager. During your performance review, your career discussions, and 1:1s. If you feel like you’re not getting as much feedback as you need, ask for it.
Lastly, use your own performance review discussions as opportunity to truly reflect on things you could have done better. Take some focus time to think about how you could have done things differently for a greater impact. Stop and think. Try to guess what feedback your colleagues would give you? (and don’t forget to later pursue your colleagues’ real feedback) What about your employees’ and your manager’s? This exercise will get you to realizations you might have missed.
What other sources are you utilizing to learn and grow?
How to effectively apply a new idea\process\tool in your team:
So you learned something or you thought about a new idea you’d like to use with your team. The best strategy I found is to experiment. You should explain to your team the logic behind your decision\thought and to call out that it’s something you’d like to try, and that you’ll only continue doing it if the TEAM finds it useful. Collect feedback from your employees during the next period to understand what’s the effect of your new practice\process on them/ Don’t be afraid to fail and learn from it and adjust.