Listen to the podcast (FULL TRANSCRIPT):
Most recently, we spoke to Claire Lew, CEO of Know Your Team. Know Your Team is a software tool that helps more than 15,000 people in 25 countries become better leaders and work with their teams better. Claire’s writing has been published on Harvard Business Review, CNBC, Business Insider, Inc, Fortune and more.
Here are some takeaways from our conversation with Claire:
Ask specific and pointed questions.
The first step to knowing your team is knowing what is and isn’t working and what you can improve upon. Like Claire pointed out, if you ask your team members “What do you think we can fix on our team?”, the answers you receive might be less engaging than if you asked questions like, “What is one thing that’s frustrated you within our interaction and dynamic in the past two weeks?” or “Have you noticed anything that our competitors have done that’s caused you to think, ‘we should be doing that’?” Be specific when asking for feedback.
Be equally vulnerable with your team.
If you are asking your team to be vulnerable, it might be helpful to show them the same in return. If your team is hesitant to share what areas they are struggling with, try sharing first and giving them an example of something you are working on. Claire’s example: “I’m actually having a really hard time thinking through the strategy or working with these clients… what are you having a hard time with?”
Futility is a larger issue than fear is.
A lot of people think the reason team members don’t speak out is due to fear of the reaction their boss will have. The truth is, research shows that a large reason why employees don’t want to speak up is futility—the idea that even if you speak up, nothing will change anyway. Claire points out that futility is 1.8 times more powerful than fear as an obstacle to feedback. As a leader, futility doesn’t mean implementing everything your team requests; it can be as simple as a genuine thank you when someone gives you critical feedback or explaining why a certain decision was made.
You need both affective trust and cognitive trust.
Affective trust is personal relatedness and having a positive affinity to someone, whereas cognitive trust is founded on reliability and competence. You need both to properly connect with your team members and in the age of COVID-19, earning affective trust is harder than ever. Even if you don’t have time to devote a large chunk of your meeting to non-work related topics, Claire suggests using a platform like Slack to ask a social question like “How do you like your eggs?” or “What’s your favorite band?” that team members can answer throughout the week.
We were so happy to have the opportunity to chat with Claire for Level Up.