One of the most debilitating workplace experiences is when your team leader sits down to talk with you about your performance in terms of what you are not doing right. 

This type of conversation begins with an introduction such as, “I would like to talk to you about some things that have been concerning me.” If this has ever happened to you, then you know how frustrating this can feel. This type of review often comes with very few positive points about what you can do about it. The reason is that the parameters for the discussion are about something you’ve not done, versus something you can do to be even more effective in your position.

One of my coaching clients is on a VP level; we’ll call him Bob, who explained to me, “I was just told to be more effective and productive in my position. Although I always strive to do that, there was no practical guidance provided because my team leader isn’t practical or productive. I didn’t find that at all helpful, but I did find it incredibly frustrating!” 

If you’re a leader and conduct this type of conversational review, here are some practical steps you can take to be a more effective leader.

Rethink your role

You can start with a completely open mind about how you communicate with your team members. This is a new world we all live in where collaboration and team spirit is far more important to many people than their title or compensation. This is not to say those dynamics are not necessary; they simply aren’t the top priorities as they used to be decades ago. 

Rethink your perception of yourself

Change how you think about yourself. Move from being a boss to a coach, and many other dimensions will fall nicely into place. If you believe this type of thinking is only for certain levels of management, think again. It can, and should, occur on every level of the organization. When it does, you find a highly motivated group of team leaders and members who are harmoniously working together to find the optimum strategy and ways to implement it. If you don’t participate in this type of leadership, you could easily find others promoted while you stay in your position. 

Rethink what you deem important

With a fresh perspective, new ideas are more easily produced. If you carry around with you a pre-determined set of expectations for all of your team members, you will continuously fail to motivate them. Why? The reason is simple. Each person on your team is different from all the others, so it makes no sense to use the same leadership style with everyone. We live in an incredibly segmented and specialized world where one size doesn’t fit all. 

Rethink your timeline goals

Leaders often overestimate what can be accomplished and underestimate the time it will take to achieve it. When I was running my marketing agency in Chicago, I was frequently asked by clients to research and market a product within a short timeframe. Back at the agency, we referred to this as “Crazy talk!” Naturally, the client came first; however, requests that had unreasonable timelines attached required another conversation to balance the ask with reality. The same is true with sound leadership. You can’t expect to fix an organizational issue that took years to create within an hour coaching session, this is also true with your team members. They need time to accomplish the new objective so be reasonable! 

The desire to build a strong and cohesive team is a worthwhile goal that will pay dividends for years to come. At first, applying some of the improvements outlined above may take time. However, once they are learned, you will function at a higher level of leadership, and you’ll be glad you made the investment.