Progress is messy..can you handle it?

Does this scenario describe you?

You have a great team..almost.  You enjoy leading them and you are producing results…almost.  Each member is a self starter and consummate team player…almost.

Let’s face it.  There is no such thing as a perfect team.   In fact, delusions of that kind of perfection are scary.  More than likely, as a leader, you can probably think of one or two members of your team who aren’t quite “there” yet.

Where is “there”?  It can be described many ways.  For some, they may be new to the department and are still learning the ropes.  And for others, they may not have the expertise needed that allows them to work without your assistance.

Whatever your “there” is, it can be frustrating because these are the situations that require our time and attention.  And let’s face it, in today’s harried workplace, time is often the very resource you simply don’t have enough of.

In addition, all leaders do not possess the natural strength of developing others which can make this time request even more challenging.

Let’s face it.  The journey of professional growth and progress can be messy!  And as leaders, we must keep this in perspective.  In not, an impatience will appear that is difficult to hide.

Here are three tips to help you manage your “under construction” zones:

  1. Your employee gets impatient too.
    When your employee is working toward growth, and is committed to it, he will have those days of wishing he could just hurry up and acquire that new skill or competency.  However, that frustration will probably not be shared with you.  You are the boss and regardless of your relationship, your employee will focus more on learning than sharing those emotions with you.
  2. Break the learning cycle into milestones.
    An old proverb asks, how do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  It takes small steps repeated over and over to finally accomplish the goal.  The same is true in whatever skill your employee is trying to learn.  Instead of focusing on the end result, focus on small steps of progress.  You will see growth which is encouraging as you look toward the end result.
  3. Celebrate “look how far you’ve come” moments.
    Regardless of the individual, everyone needs to hear praise and encouragement.  It’s the secret language that keeps us going.  Your employees need to hear from you from time to time.  They need to know you are clued in to their progress.  Those little celebration moments help them keep trying, growing and improving.

“Under construction” can certainly be messy.  But let’s face it, once complete, we’re probably ready for the next project.

Here’s to you and lots of messy progress.

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