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News & Press: Feature

How Well Are You Leading and Motivating Your Team?

Thursday, June 6, 2013   (2 Comments)
Posted by: Vincent Luciani - Association Director

As anyone who’s been in the technology industry long enough will attest, despite the fact that you may have had countless individual achievements throughout your career, the truly rewarding experiences come from leading a team of individuals to reach a common goal. I can only assume that it’s akin to the movie industry. Think of all those great actors who took on a director’s role in order to achieve further creative fulfillment. Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Mel Gibson come to mind. It almost seems like the next logical step in ‘completing’ yourself.

Early on in my career, I learned that the primary responsibility of an IT executive is to lead others to produce meaningful and measurable results. But without proper leadership and motivation, your teams are constrained from achieving great things. Let’s looks closely at some techniques to help you jumpstart your team.

In a world of acronyms, here is one more to add to your arsenal: Dedication Attitude Reward Educate…DARE.

Dedication – Hopefully, your dedication to your employer is fierce. But contrary to what you may be thinking, I am referring to the dedication of your team. More likely than not, the reason you are in a leadership position is partly, or perhaps even mostly, due to those working for you. I can no longer count the number of times my teams have performed 3 a.m. Sunday morning system upgrades, or proactively handled issues that could have escalated into much larger problems had they not jumped into action, all without my involvement. While it’s true you can’t teach dedication, you can recognize it, which begs the question, "Are you adequately recognizing the dedication of your team and helping to create an environment that recognizes dedication?”

Attitude – You may not realize it but your attitude sets the tone by which those who surround you will emulate. Would you want to work for a manager who was depressed and resented coming to work each day? No. Do you think the field general can rally his troops by stating "Men, there’s absolutely no way we can win this battle”? Of course not. Leaders have positive attitudes, and they pass that attitude onto others: it’s infectious. I know, I know…we all have bad days, and hopefully you have many more good ones than bad. But on those occasions, try to be conscious of it and suppress it. Draw strength from some of your past successes. Leaders think positively.

Reward – People can be rewarded in different ways. If you don’t have the ability to reward employees monetarily there are certainly other effective ways.

  • A personal note from you can make all the difference to an employee. When an employee receives an email from you, or better yet a handwritten note of appreciation, he or she will know you are paying attention to their work and that you value their contribution.

  • Publicly recognize your employees’ contribution by putting him/her in the spotlight. Perhaps an email to the department or mentioning a particular employee’s outstanding efforts at your next staff meeting does the trick.

  • Group recognition – so you’ve just completed a harrowing week and everyone has put in exceptionally long hours. Do you simply leave the office and wish them a good weekend? How about a Friday afternoon pizza party for the team…at your expense? Perhaps a note to the team praising them for their accomplishment, and be sure to copy your boss. Or how about distributing Starbucks gift cards? You get the idea. There are numerous ways you can accomplish this.

Educate – This can take on several meanings. Firstly, you can educate an employee on what he/she can do to improve themselves, but in such a way that they even thank you for it. "John, I just have to say how happy I am with the way the data warehousing project is coming along. It will certainly have a positive impact on our P&L! For future reference, try inviting Tom from Finance, he has some great ideas and unique ways of looking at data. It should yield even better results for everybody.”

Secondly, if you don’t have the means to reward employees with money, then do so with education. Employees place an incredible value on education, especially if it yields a certification. The fact that you are spending resources on their career speaks volumes about your concern for their advancement. At a previous employer, I was able to create an education plan which encouraged employees to take training classes and the corresponding exams (relevant to their area of responsibility). In return, the employee agreed to formally discuss and cross-train with the rest of the team and agreed to continue employment with the company for at least another year. In this case, everyone was a winner.

Vincent Luciani


Vincent P. Luciani says...
Posted Saturday, June 8, 2013
Heath, thanks for your comment. One this I neglected to mention was that over the course of my career, I have enjoyed extremely low turnover rate despite the economic climate. There are so many things that leaders can do to retain and advance their employees.
Heath Parsons says...
Posted Thursday, June 6, 2013
This DARE concept is a good one. Some business don't even practice half of this. I've worked with managers that dreaded coming to work, and "never had time" to help me advance. In a way, this made me a self starter because I had other motivation. A good leader makes time for their subordinates though, improving confidence, helps motivate, and keeps them interested in the job. All this leads to a productive employee. It also pays to be a leader and not a "friend", that way, people still respect you as their authority and continue to be productive. I like your reward system; rewarding people with education can be even more valuable than rewarding them with a small raise. I would much rather take on more education I cannot afford on my own, than get a small raise that I would not end up putting toward education, but more Quik Trip drinks. Good stuff, Vincent.

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