Team Engagement: How to Manage With Transparency
As a water lab manager, team engagement is one of your top responsibilities. If your team is effectively engaged in your lab's operations, they will have a better grasp of the lab's overall goals. With a stake in the future success of your lab, your team will be motivated to work efficiently, both individually and as a group.
The Benefits of Transparency
There are myriad benefits to leading and managing your team with transparency. Some of the most notable benefits include shared accountability, clear expectations, and better project management, among others. Read on for more.
1. Performance and Accountability
Team engagement works because, ultimately, management is a shared project. When everyone is engaged, team members understand each other's jobs better and can help with the progress of specific projects. Your employees will be motivated because they understand the shared impact of their actions.
Transparency also promotes responsibility. The entire team knows what needs to be accomplished, and if problems arise, they can offer solutions and take ownership in the process.
Whether intentionally or by omission, withholding information can lead to misunderstandings. Leading with transparency ensures that both employee and employer expectations are articulated and understood. By communicating clearly and openly, employees are less likely to make false assumptions about their job or the lab's overall goals.
3. Management of Project Complications
Project complications that jeopardize a deadline are not as uncommon as you'd like them to be, but transparency of the project status enables you and your team to identify issues early. What's more, transparency also helps the team to determine together how best to resolve any conflicts.
Where to Aim for Transparency
While transparency and comprehensive team engagement are important management strategies, not all situations call for full transparency. In fact, in some areas, such as specific salaries or employment negotiations, transparency isn't appropriate. The trick, then, is recognizing where transparency is appropriate and helpful.
1. Project Outline and Goals
Communicating the outline and intended goals of either a specific project or a specific time period enables team members to grasp the overall mission and their particular role. Overviews can be communicated in team meetings, but there are also times when topics would be better addressed by email or individual conversation.
2. Financial Data
It may not be necessary, or even advisable, to share all financial data with team members on any given project. But by sharing budgetary information — particularly by translating funds allotted into the project time frame — team members can structure their daily work to stay on track and complete the project at or under budget.
3. Promote Teamwork
Open and regular communication is the best way for your team to identify and fix problems before they impact the course or cost of any project. On a daily or regular basis, all team members should understand the project status and the reasons for their next actions. Transparency of this type helps managers and team members understand the connection between various tasks and the direction and progress of the entire team.
How to Achieve Transparency
Given the range of your responsibilities, it's not always easy to remember the "whys and wherefores" related to team engagement and how to build and sustain it. It may be simplest to view team engagement as a series of small, regular steps that, taken together, build a culture of openness and trust among you and your team. The following are some ways to effectively manage this aspect:
- Articulate a consistent policy of openness to ensure you and team leaders will be transparent on an ongoing basis about business developments and decisions that affect your lab.
- Take the time to communicate one-on-one with your employees in the name of forming personal connections and reinforcing your commitment to transparency.
- Conduct regular team meetings to make sure everyone is informed about new projects and developments and that they understand the impacts and expectations that may accompany any changes.
- To emphasize your commitment to transparency, encourage your employees to give honest feedback about company policies and any recent changes or announcements.
- As a lab manager, you may think that you have to "fix" the challenges your lab encounters. But many of your employees have considerable experience. Set the right tone early on, ask for input, and listen closely to their responses.
The first step toward achieving transparency in your lab is taking the time to understand its importance. The second step is to commit to achieving it. Once those two steps are behind you, the benefits to you, your team, and your lab will soon follow.