Automating Team Growth and Development

If you’re leading a team, the growth and development of each member of your team are going to be at the top of that big TODO list you have that lists out everything you want to accomplish with your team.

But this doesn’t mean you need to run with all of it.

Although it might sound weird to “Automate” your team’s growth, really what you are trying to accomplish is have a system in place that enables constant growth and development that does not require your constant intervention (but still yield the results you’d like to see).

To this end, there are a few strategies that you can employ that can help you achieve your goals.

Empowering Team Members

As the Team Lead or Manager, you make a ton of decisions every day, but you don’t need to.  If you were to take a look back at the decisions you had to make in a day, how many did you really need to be a part of and how many could you have skipped out on.  An easy way to embolden your team to handle the little things on their own is to ask what they would and have them go along with that (as long as it’s not burning down the office).  Whether it works or doesn’t work, you gave them the opportunity to make a decision and grow.  Now that they know you support them this will only spur them to take more ownership in what they do.

Encourage the Team to Resolve Issues

There are always the little issues between teams and team members that crop up.  Whether they are architectural or personal, the goal is for the team to work through the issues, come to you with a resolution that you can sign off on and move forward with.  They might get the resolution wrong the first few times but that is why you are there as the final decision maker on how they should proceed but allowing them to define the process and outcome as they work through it.

Team Activities

I eschew the word events in this context because everyone thinks an Event is a big thing that requires massive organization.  Activities are different, they are the team lunches, the going out for a drink after work, the playing ping pong for a quick 15 minutes, etc.  These are the events that strengthen a team’s bond when working together.  Take a second and think of any of your favourite sports team.  These teams spend an inordinate amount of time together between games and practices so they get to better know each other’s quirks and strengths – there is value to that knowledge when it comes to growth and development which is why activities are so important.

But you don’t need to organize them all and having everyone shoulder this load (and know that everyone owns a bit of it), is a great way to ensure that these activities keep happening when you get busy or someone else gets busy and doesn’t rest with one person.

Again, I used the word “Automation”, another word might be auto-pilot, but these words only apply to the Leader and not the rest of the team.  By encouraging your team to share in this workload to keep your team developing and growing you are emboldening each person with skills in Leadership, Ownership, Accountability, Responsibility where each one of they shares in the collective growth of the team, contributing in their own way to ensure that regardless of someone’s schedule, the team is always developing.

From the outside, others might see it as you offloading these tasks onto your team, but what you are really doing is training them to run their own teams so they are ready for it when the time comes.

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