Managing your team members individually: a per-person approach

An starting point to assess your cost-benefit analysis for your team members should be tthe identification of their actual shortcomings and strengths. Sounds easy, but a huge percentatge of leadership misguidances come from a wrong implementation of this simple point. A simple, yet effective approach to this poses a clasification of each member based on his/her technical skills and motivation. I personally find useful to label the four areas of the resulting matrix as follows:

  • Runners: On your upper right side of the matrix you can find the highly skilled, highly motivated employees. Runners are worth their weight in gold, no need to say, for they will lead the team to the next level and become a benchmark and role model for ther rest of its members. Remember: Team leaders should just care about trying to remove any potential obstacles for a runner to do what knows better: run. Pep Guardiola, former FC Barcelona’s head coach, knew this very well when he was questioned about what to do to improve Leo Messi’s already outstanding performance in 2009. He answered:”I just have to make sure that he’s happy”
  • Grandpas: Just below Runners, we’ll find grandpas. These are typically obsolete or very junior professionals (that means investment required) very much willing to be learn and be helpful. Motivation is an asset, unarguably, though a practical team leader should evaluate the cost-benefit analysis of such investment to decide on its viability and potential risks. Thus said, the classic pitfall with grandpas is failing to properly identify  their training shortfalls and take them as motivational issues. Remember: Grandpa’s just need a bit of external help. Help them climb (to the runner zone) and you’ll gain an invaluable asset for your team.
  • Sloth Bears: Located in the opposite side of the matrix, sloth bears are essentially demotivated professionals. Such demotivation might be caused by different reasons, but, eventually, will result into a plummeting performance. This constitutes, precisely, the classic pitfall regarding sloth bears: mistaking their demotivation for a lack of knowledge and preparation. Remember: focusing on the causes of the problem, and not on its effects, is what sets apart a good from a bad team leader. If you really want to help your sloth bear members, push them right. This game of words (right to the runner zone and the right way of pushing) will help you remember that an unmanageable challenge will make your team member fall in the worst possible zone of the matrix: the zombie zone!
  • Zombies: A good lesson from The Walking Dead TV series is that no matter what you do with zombies, if you’re outnumbered they’ll always win.Therefore, if one of your team members is either motivated or sufficiently skilled, you should seriously consider taking his/her relocation. Remember: zombies are slow, but their number will grow quietly and, before you know, you’ll have a team of zombies.

About the author Marc Sansó

Ph.D, MBA. Management Consultant, Professor and Researcher. Keen on competitive strategy, digital economy, FC Barcelona and horror movies

All posts by Marc Sansó →

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