Gary, a new manager, is handling many of his team members' tasks, as well as his own. It's not that the team has a history of failing to meet their deadlines, though. Gary is stepping in ahead of the deadlines and completing tasks earlier than the date assigned in the project flow. Perplexed, but unwilling to challenge their manager, team members simply adjust: waiting to start their tasks later and later, closer to deadline...and Gary keeps getting their work done before they start it. But why?
Gary needs a do-over on a task still pending from many decades ago -- the acquisition of a healthy capacity for Trust. As the first of the 7 Facets for Team Success, Trust is also the first interpersonal skill we are pre-programmed to develop as children. Before the age of one year, before we talk and even before we can sit up, crawl, or walk, we learn how to trust...or we don't. Many of us are in the latter category. Despite their good intentions, our parents just didn't know what to do, to help us mine and polish up this little gem of Trust.
In personal relationships, Trust is all about getting our needs met. In workplace relationships, Trust must expand to include getting our team's needs and our company's needs met. For Gary, differentiating team and company needs from his own needs is the crux of the problem.
All his life, Gary's used an "early bird" approach to his responsibilities; he never procrastinates. If a task is due in three weeks, he starts today and works on some part of it every day or two, so that it's ready for review, double-checking, and polishing, several days before the deadline.
Unlike Gary, many of his team members push the start of their work closer to the task deadline. They may start a job just a few days before it's due, and yet still complete it on time and with quality. Unable to trust that the team's and company's needs could be met by this different work style, Gary starts the task early, as he feels it should be, to assure success. In his mind, he's "modeling a better approach" for his team, yet that message is not the one they're receiving. Some of his team believe that their new manager doesn't think they're up to the job; some think he's a competetive climber of the corporate ladder, out to make them look bad; some are just glad to have more free time in their days, as Gary quickly burns out doing multiple jobs.
Getting Gary to improve this facet of his management requires that he first understand its early foundations. Grasping the dynamics of infant development may seem counter-intuitive as leadership development. But a chance for Gary to learn about the origins of Trust, and to re-assess how Trust is working for him, will enable him to better use his team's human resources and achieve higher productivity for the whole team and the company.