Last month, we talked about the role of boundaries in leadership in the workplace. In it we covered how knowing your staff’s strengths and weaknesses are the key to setting boundaries – and that boundaries are actually welcomed. Because boundaries help everyone know what’s ok and what’s not within a company, so they can tailor their responses accordingly – whether working with you, co-workers or clients.
As the boss, manager or team leader, boundaries help you too; each day there are many interactions in which you will be reinforcing those as they arise, in both obvious or more subtle ways. So while company guidelines are there, there’s the next level: the more finely tuned boundaries between you and each staff member. Knowing what each individual is capable of is a critical element in defining, conveying and upholding those. And as you do, you will find more ease and confidence in delegating and managing. You will be freed up to do more, while enjoying more office harmony and success achieving goals
A game changing tool I’d suggest to better assess each individual is the Skill/Will Matrix. Created by Max Landsberg, it shows how to” build your own effectiveness by building the effectiveness of your team members.” That bonus alone is worth the exercise!
The Matrix helps to frame not just their skills but their motivation level. Combined, you can see each person more clearly and tailor your management of their needs and maximize their potential in achieving the company’s objectives- and your goals too.
The Skill/Will Matrix
The Matrix is a simple chart with four quadrants, each representing a category that denotes levels of skill (high or low) and motivation or will (also high or low). The idea is that each of your people roughly falls into one of these categories. If you understand each person this way, you can engage and manage them in a way that truly fits them. In doing so, you will help each employee grow to be their most effective.That leads to an engaged, happier, more accomplished work force. And you will not only will the satisfaction level be palpable, you will delegate more effectively, thus freeing you up. And the rewards are felt by all as you achieve greater success individually and as a team and a company.
The Four Quadrants:
The graphic above shows four sections in the matrix:
- Quadrant 1: High Skill, High Will
- Quadrant 2: Low Skill, High Will
- Quadrant 3: Low Skill, Low Will
- Quadrant 4: High Skill, Low Will
Identifying each person by a quadrant is not to put them in a generic box. It is a way to understand and better help them (and you!). Start by determining what quadrant each person may fit into, generally speaking. Then, take a look at their responsibilities, personal goals, workflow and how it relates to their deliverables.
Skill vs. Will
Skill level can depend on their training, and past work experience. Their level of competence makes all the difference in how well they function in their job. Fortunately, people can be trained to do more or better, in most cases. Will, or motivation, is a little tricker to assess and work with. There are people who could be more motivated based on a new title, more responsibilities, monetary goals or a sense of success, satisfaction and team camaraderie. Looking more closely at these clues will unlock the most effective ways to communicate, motivate, and match tasks to skill sets.
For example, if someone is highly motivated but needs more training to move up, then you can talk to them about getting that training. If another is highly motivated and highly skilled, perhaps you can give them more responsibility, have them oversee others, or check in on them less than you had been.
Matrix Driven Solutions
Within each quadrant you see there are suggested actions that work with the level of skill and will combined. Note that all include praise and endorsement. I’m a big believer in that.
If there are productivity issues, is it due to a team with mismatched skills or motivation for the task? Can you provide training to the ones who need it to create better results? If someone is not as motivated, what steps can you take to work with them to increase that? Would one of your highly motivated people thrive in a different section of the company that is a better match for their skill set? Would a new title or pay grade create the necessary motivation in one of your highly skilled people? I found this article to be a nice source of specific actions you can take for each quadrant.
Know this is a fluid process, especially because your people will inevitably grow from it! Expect that some may move from one quadrant to another over time. Motivation may increase in all as the team works better – and as you enjoy the fruits of the process as well. Plan to do a personnel review every six months or so, using this tool.
If you’d like to read the Landsberg book which started it all, it’s called the Tao of Coaching. It’s well worth the read as its focus is on creating more time for yourself by delegating well, and enjoying that you are building good teams and working effectively with them… all of which enhances success!