There is no doubt that driving the team hard and creating organizational clarity can help deliver extraordinary results. Everyone in the organization needs to be hyper focused on achieving goals. However, doing this the wrong way can cause more harm than good.
What are the signals that you might be driving your people by applying pressure, instead of being out front leading? And if you are, what can you do about it?
This is a good topic for another post in and of itself, but briefly, you might be causing a lot of lost productivity in your team if you notice any of the following:
- Team members are not sure whether they are working on the right things.
- People are switching between tasks, redoing work, or undoing work.
- There is a lot of work in progress that is not finished and delivering value for customers and the company.
If any of these things ring true for you, you might need to take a different approach.
You absolutely need to set high expectations. But the way to do this is by being out front, not whipping from behind. You probably know this, but are not really sure what kind of alternative you have to harassing people to achieve results.
Set High Expectations, But Don’t Rely On Friendship
Faced with this choice, a lot of managers resort to trying to be everyone’s friend. This might actually be a worse decision. As a manager, it is absolutely your job to care about your people, to accelerate their careers, to nurture them towards their goals. But you don’t do this by being peoples’ friends.
Trying to be someone’s buddy when you’re their boss is a devil’s bargain. It leads to caring primarily what they think about you, which as Patrick Lencioni explains, sets off a dangerous chain of events that ends up making you ineffective at creating buy-in and organizational alignment.
Don’t Rely On Sustained Effort
As a manager, you might be tempted to think that you can just muscle through it, consistently spending time with each person one-on-one. If you can, great. But most of us can’t do that on a consistent basis. And besides, there will always be vacations and other interruptions.
This is one of the reasons why you really can’t rely on friendship. Given that you can’t be consistent, if you try to do it through personal charisma you will end up giving everyone whiplash. This will not only jeopardize business results, but also your personal relationship, making you even more prone to falling into the trap of ego.
Use An Expectations Document
The alternative that my coach has taught me to use is a document that sets out expectations and guidelines for performance. We call this a job defined agreement, but you may have a different name for it. Regardless, the goal is to have a consistent yardstick, so that you don’t have to try to do it yourself through effort or personality.
Create the document early, before you even hire for the position. Use it during the hiring process, onboarding, and during regular reviews.
If you’d like a specific example of how to do this, you should check out my recent 45-page ebook on how to hire a DBA . I explain how to create and use the job defined agreement through the entire lifecycle, setting a foundation for success down the line.
This works equally well for non-technical and technical people, individual contributors and managers, and everyone in the company.
Originally published at Why Pressuring Your Team Can Backfire.