Several thousand years ago a tribal leader instructed his people not to gleen to the edges of their fields. The intention was for a small amount of food to be left for the poor.
Today such a rule would be met with protests from several sections of society. We are encouraged to max out in every area of our lives.
No wonder managers and leaders feel the need to push their staff progressively harder season after season.
This approach has never made a lot of sense to me but how should we lead and motivate our staff.
I think our ancient tribal leader can offer us a clue here.
If we take the view that each team member, like a field, has a limited amount of resource to offer each day we can make the decision not to gleen to the edges.
People cannot work at 100% all of the time, but they can give a great deal if they know that such effort is only needed for a defined period. If you consistently max them out there will be nothing left for them to give when the situation demands it.
People also need natural breathers in their working day in order set themselves for the next phase of work. Managers think that tea/coffee breaks and lunch times provide this but staff see these occasions as belonging to them.
Here are five tips on how NOT to gleen to the edges of your team's resources:
1. When calculating the length of a process ensure that you include some breathing time.
2. Take into consideration the time-scales involved in any project. Longer projects need moments that can be used as mini re-launches, giving staff the time to pause and take stock.
3. At the busiest times choose to outsource some of the work rather than maxing people out with excessive amounts of overtime.
4. Be considerate towards the personal needs of team members and make appropriate allowances. This will pay dividends in getting commitment to the cause. For example; offering understanding when someone has just returned from a time of bereavement or when their spouse is ill can help to build staff up towards full commitment.
5. Measure every process but be consistent ensuring that you include your team in the process. Measurement can help to show members how your philosophy works for them, thus gaining their respect and commitment.
These soft skills are not easy and they don’t produce immediate results. They do, however, help to create a culture of commitment.