Play 12 - Lead by example, leverage the power of self-reflection, and be accountable
As a supervisor, your actions will speak far louder than your words, so you must take great care in what you do (though you still need to take great care in what you say, too!). It’s very easy to get spun up into the whirlwind of chaos that so often takes over our jobs.
Consider this thought exercise for a moment: if you work long hours and into the weekend many times, what impact does this have on you? What impact does it have on your team? Even if you truly enjoy the work and do not necessarily want to step away from it, you owe it to yourself and your team to set boundaries and step away. If your team sees you working an unsustainable schedule and attempting to always be the hero, you will foster a similar work style in your team. Those less familiar with such situations will follow you and suffer, and others may end up ignoring you at best, and possibly resisting and even resenting you at worst.
Instead, focus on creating a healthy and psychologically safe space for you and your team. Find ways to foster creativity and celebrate the wins. Encourage and model behavior that allows team members to bring their authentic selves. Participate in activities directly with the team, especially things that are less than ideal (e.g., late night deployments). Ask yourself and reflect on these notions: how can you make everyone’s lives better, their work more enjoyable, and their careers more successful? Remember that great leaders always eat last.
Furthermore, step back from the daily tasks and think more holistically about your work and how it is impacting your team and the organization as a whole. These are great learning opportunities and discussion topics for your team, and will help foster a healthy culture of open communication and trust. Be honest with yourself and others; do not hide or be ashamed of your own shortcomings, either. Own them, share them with others, and ask for help to improve!
Additionally, make sure you’re setting a positive and healthy example by also holding yourself accountable to the team. When you make commitments, follow through with them. If there has been an established set of team norms, be sure to exhibit those same qualities and hold yourself to those standards as well.
Finally, make it clear and reiterate that you need the team’s help and that they are empowered and encouraged to speak with you or your supervisor if they have any concerns, and that you will take these concerns seriously and work to improve whatever is at stake. By doing so, you’ll engage in another trust building activity with individuals and help build and maintain your credibility as well.
- If there is a crunch, be sure to balance it with taking time off
Push back when necessary for the sake of your team and yourself
- Ask if due dates coming from other teams are negotiable
- Work with your supervisor if you are unable to find places to make space for your team
- Be clear with your team on what trade-offs you are making, and why
If the job requires an extraordinary effort, including late nights or weekends, find ways to acknowledge and honor the contributions.
- Make it explicit that you support folks taking leave
- Check-in with each team member: is there anything they need?
- Celebrate in a way that resonates for your team: set aside extra time to write and share kudos, spend a team meeting doing a fun activity, etc.
- Submit a Special Act Award nomination
Play 12 Reflection Questions
Reflect on an event that has been lingering in your mind (can be positive, negative, or neutral).
- What could you have done better?
- What did you do particularly well?
- What did you learn?
- Is there anything you would do differently?
Based on the reflection above, ask others for their perspective(s) to help uncover any potential biases (particularly unconscious)
- Find an accountability partner if you plan to make any changes or adjustments based on your learnings. This could be your coach, if you have signed up for coaching.
Play 12 Case Studies
- For the past two months, you have intentionally blocked off time on your calendar so that you can take a break and eat lunch. You’ve noticed that you become agitated when you don’t eat. Although this time is blocked on your calendar, you have noticed that the members of the team you supervise often request your input for priority tasks they are working on during this time. How will you handle and prioritize your self-care? How will you encourage the team to practice self-care?
- You’re so busy tackling a normal working day, juggling meetings, your inbox, Slack messages, etc., when suddenly it hits you - you were so busy during the 1:1 meeting with a team member that you realized you did not pay attention to anything they said during the meeting. How do you mitigate the situation?