If you’re a team leader, you probably got there by being great at your work -- whether you were a designer, a developer, a PM, or any other team member. Now you’re accountable for more than just your own projects; you’re accountable for the projects of your whole team. Relying on the same skillsets that served you well before is like trying to use a hammer with a screw because it works so well with nails.
As a practitioner, it was great that you could solve your own challenges -- but now the members of your team need that same chance, and you can unconsciously create a top-down culture that deprives them of the chance to demonstrate their skills. If you try to retain control over the details, you may find yourself saying, “I don’t have enough time to manage the team’s work on all these projects -- things keep slipping through the cracks,” while smart, creative people with the capability to solve big problems sit on the sidelines, feeling that their input isn’t prioritized.
By refactoring your mental model for success and switching from a control-based approach to a trust-based one, you’ll become more transparent about how decisions are made on the team and foster an environment people feel comfortable contributing to -- which will make your team, and your company, better. We’ll talk about how you can work toward this by:
- Identifying big-picture goals and increasing team autonomy to decide the methods and processes to achieve them
- Granting decision-making power to all people with sound judgment -- not just the managers at the top
- Creating a culture of “out-loud” thinking to encourage early collaboration and improve team communication
- Certifying team member understanding of best practices, rather than encouraging blind adherence to processes
- Asking coaching questions and fighting the urge to give solutions for every problem
This session is targeted toward team leaders who are interested in, or intrigued by, shifting from a top-down structure to a structure that gives more power to the talented individuals who make up their teams. As a director and associate director, we’ll talk about lessons from our ongoing efforts to release control in our 20+ person technology team at a DC agency, including our stumbling blocks and the feedback, good and bad, we’ve gotten along the way.