Your Management Team is a Focus Group

Has this ever happened to you? You are leading yet another Zoom meeting. Everyone is either looking down at their notebooks, gazing off into space, or nodding thoughtfully, but no one is really engaging.

Is it Zoom burnout? Is it pandemic fatigue? Or is everyone anxious to get started on their tasks?

If you are not sure what is going on with your management team, it’s time to find out. Knowledge, after all, is power. Your management team is a powerful focus group and you should be treating them as such. 

Why You Should View Your Management Team as a Focus Group

A focus group is demographically diverse, participates in guided discussions, and provides ongoing feedback. Your management team should be diverse, they need to be participating in important decisions about upcoming team projects, and they are a resource for providing ongoing assessment. 

Diversity in Leadership

Hire for diversity: diversity in demographics, diversity in personality, diversity in strengths and challenges, diversity in mindsets, diversity in skills, etc. In a well led group, diversity breeds curiosity, excitement and new ideas. Hire people who are varied and who will complement each other’s skill sets. Build engagement in your leadership team and wade through sticking points that a diverse group of people will have, your team will be better for it. 

Guided Discussions

You are the guide and manager of your team’s dynamics. As their leader, you are responsible for using discussions as connections points, even around disagreement. Lead by listening, giving thoughtful responses, and coalescing the ideas your team members have into cohesive forward movement. Your team members should be smarter than you, especially in areas where you need improvement. Guide the discussions so the team works together to innovate, reiterate, and improve.

Ongoing Feedback

Your management team is your greatest source for ongoing feedback on how your entire company, department or team is doing. They know the minutiae of the discourse, challenges, and demotivating factors that exist. Your team will be healthier the more you dive into the areas where they need coaching. Ask for introspective assessment from each of your leadership team members weekly.

How to Use Your Management Team as a Focus Group  

Don’t wait for your management team to come to you with their challenges, ask for their help in identifying areas of improvement and address them together. 

One on One Meetings

Have one on one chats with each individual on your management team once a week. Every single week ask them how their team is doing. You need this update to understand trends over time. 

As you gather information from each team leader see if there are trends across teams. These are the major issues you need to identify and address. When you see these trends take a moment to reflect on why they may be happening. Add a discussion of these trends to your weekly meeting agenda with your leadership team. 

Weekly Meetings with an Agenda

Invest time in creating an agenda for your weekly team meeting. You know what each team leader is experiencing and where there are pain points. Put challenging areas of improvement on your agenda each week and discuss them with your team. Ask for their input. Come up with a S.M.A.R.T. goal to address the issue and assign a specific person to the specific tasks. Pay attention and let the discussions wander if team cohesiveness is emerging, but bring the discussion back to practical solutions when the discussion is winding down. 

Town Hall Meetings

Conduct Town Hall Meetings with your entire department, team, or group. Are these daunting affairs? Well, they can be. The best Town Hall Meetings include a lot of preparation, asking for questions ahead of time, and fun engagement activities with prizes. They are also invaluable. Not only will you learn important areas of confusion, you show your team that you see and hear them, and a few $5 Starbucks cards given out during the meeting helps improve morale. 

Discover and Address Areas of Improvement

Treat your management team like a focus group and you will quickly learn where the challenges of your team lie. However, this is just the beginning. It is the research phase. Now, you need to address these issues with practical results-oriented tasks. Your solutions might not work right away, so go back to your team, ask more questions, and reiterate on the process. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. 

A good leader is constantly seeking the best places to put their energy. One of the best areas you can invest in is finding the under current issue your team is facing. Solving your team’s underlying issues or, at the very least, starting to address them will create a dynamic and engaging environment that people will thrive under.