Mentoring Your Team the Right Way

how great bosses communicate delegationSo much of your business success depends upon the people on your team. In today’s competitive hiring environment your ability to hire, train, and mentor well is critical.

A recent article in Inc. Magazine lists 8 things that great bosses communicate to their people regularly:


  1. “I have total confidence in you.”
  2. “This is what I want you to accomplish.”
  3. “What can we do better next time?”
  4. “I want to play to your strengths.”
  5. “What is your opinion?”
  6. “How can I better support you?”
  7. “Let me know if you have any questions.”
  8. “Good work.”

These are great and if you are at all squeamish about any of them, you might want to reflect on your leadership style and see how it’s working for you.

Points 1, 4 and 8 all relate to building up a person’s confidence in their own ability to do the work. Without that confidence, regardless of skill level, they will not accomplish what you want. Letting your team members know that you believe in them and you recognize their strengths is key to building that confidence. Praising them genuinely and in the way, they want to receive it, is the last step towards building confidence. Employees gain confidence by knowing they did well or are on track from their boss. Most survey’s show that good employees will leave if they do not receive regular feedback and acknowledgment for a job well done. And if someone truly deserves a stellar review, don’t muck it up with a made up “one thing to improve” just because you feel you need to put it on the form. It’s demotivating and will become their focus vs. all the good things they’ve done.

Points 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7 are all about good delegation. Mostly what I see is the opposite of this. First, gain absolute clarity about what you are trying to accomplish, what success looks like, and what you expect them to do. Then give them time to think it over and come back with questions, usually later that same day or first thing the next day, but no more than 24 hours after delegating the task or project. Asking for their thoughts on it is always good as they will likely be able to add value and point out what you may not see. Asking how you can help or what resources they might need is key to a good outcome. Remember you’re trying to get them to be successful, not do it for them, so providing all the tools needed up front is mandatory. Lastly, debrief after any delegation – what went well, what did not go well, and what will you do differently next time. And of course, always be open to questions, at any time.

Think about how often you have used any of the questions in the past week or so and if you can’t honestly say you did, this might be a good opportunity to add to your communication repertoire and motivate and engage your employees in the process.

photo credit: Women In Tech – 84 via photopin (license)