I have worked with some great teams. However, the greatest team that I ever worked in was full of confident individuals. I don’t mean confidence manifested as arrogance or egotism. I mean their ability to be true to their values and confident in their capability to do their job – on the good, the bad days and the very bad days.
This was a high performing team. Job satisfaction was high and turnover was low in the face of a stressful environment. Team members were encouraged to push towards their full potential; to do more asking then telling; and move outside comfort zones to embrace new ideas.
The goal was not about the volume of output per team member or making sure everyone ran at 110% all of the time. It was about a Leader who recognised that creating confidence was not just necessary, but vital for collaboration and to drive collective accountability. Confident teams deliver quality outcomes, ideas and innovative solutions. They move forward from mistakes and take the time to step back so they can problem solve.
Being confident is about far more than just the false mentality of ‘fake it, till you make it’ – there are behaviours we can all embrace to build confidence in others:
Challenging comfort zones: Encourage employees to challenge themselves and their teams to undertake new tasks and projects that are just outside their current skill set.
Offering employees opportunities to continue expanding their knowledge generates a sense of personal and professional growth. Employees will enjoy their job when they feel they are mastering their area rather than struggling to keep up. As a manager or as a colleague, we should never ask someone to do something knowing that they will fail. However, encouraging a team member to take on new challenges, that we know they can achieve, (even when they do not think they can) is an important part of leading effective teams.
Creating confident employees is about leaving the rigging slack enough to catch momentum, but supported enough to make sure that they are not destined for disaster.
Acknowledgment builds awareness: Acknowledge employees for the talents they don’t know they have.
We are all good at something. We all have talents that are unique. When these are showcased and acknowledged, we build confidence in our own ability and gain recognition of how we can contribute to others. The more you appreciate an individual for something, the more likely they are to do it again.
Spotlighting a job well-done, provides the employee with the confidence to move from a practitioner in that skill, to a teacher. When a confident team is willing to share and educate each other – team capability expands, and the company benefits from greater performance.
Feedback is always an opportunity: Sometimes S%$# happens and employees should talk about it.
We all know it’s not always rainbows and sunshine in the work environment. Sometimes there is room for improvement, and sometimes we just get it horribly wrong.
When we give feedback we need to keep a healthy balance between those things that have been done well, and those areas where there is opportunity for improvement. A great leader builds confidence by always using feedback as a tool to encourage further development. Confident individuals will see failures and bad days as an opportunity to learn, and a confident team will respond with collective accountability – and collaborate to move forward.
Think beyond the Role: Encourage employees to speak up about their wants, needs and career gaols – even if it means leaving.
Confident employees will speak up when they feel they have outgrown their role, and are vocal about their need for progression. Great employees look for challenges and continuous learning and this sometimes this means they will leave!
We are all engaged in an economy where longevity in a role is no longer the holy grail, and it is time we shifted our thinking about employees leaving. Encouraging and supporting confident employees to progress their career outside the business can be a solid business strategy. That confident employee may one day return to the business as the passionate CEO. They can also be the businesses greatest advocate in the market place. Confident and successful former employees speak to brand, and loyalty in a way that money can’t buy.
The benefits of employee confidence is gaining momentum, and there is growing recognition that confidence plays a critical role in the success of any business. Without confidence, employees will shy away from tough decisions; second guess themselves and others, and ultimately lack the accountability necessary to grow.
I will always be grateful to my former Leader for many things – but foremost because from him I learnt that confidence is always a team sport!