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When you get push back from team members, seek to understand its cause so that you can address it effectively. Thatcher Mweu from Sendy shares how her experience of serving as an Executive Assistant at both the African Leadership University and Andela taught her the importance of taking the time to agree on how each role on a team interfaces with one another.
There’s no better way to learn about leadership than being thrust into managing a team. Hillary Sang from Apollo Agriculture tells us about his “baptism by fire” experience in managing one of his first field teams at Pula and how an open culture of rapid feedback helped him recognize and correct challenges he was having with his team around timelines and communication.
When is the last time you turned down a freelance project or client? One of the ten principles within our 100 Day Challenge course for coaches and consultants focuses on “learning to say no” including declining when there is not a good fit.
Read on for more details…
Managing communication flows, the benefits of serving as an Executive Assistant early in your career, and work-life balance at startups
Here are a few highlights from the conversation with Thatcher:
When you get push back from team members, seek to understand its cause so that you can address it effectively: When Thatcher took on the role of Executive Assistant for the CEO, a role that had not yet existed there, she initially faced challenges in following up with team members who had previously only directly communicated with the CEO as their manager. But after she took time to sit down with each of the team members to agree on how her role interfaces with theirs, she saw how her role had impacted the traditional flow of information and knew how to better align around new expectations and processes. This is now a strategy Thatcher practices wherever she goes - even if it seems like a lot of initial meetings upfront.
Uncover and leverage your role’s hidden advantages: Thatcher was able to leverage her two initial Executive Assistant roles by seeing the bird’s eye view of an organization and intentionally dipping her toes into a variety of projects to learn what she liked and disliked.
As a project manager, you need to manage both tasks and emotions: Thatcher shared that her biggest learning over the years in coordinating projects is how to achieve progress while collaborating with different personality types and working styles on the same project team. Typically communicating, or even over-communicating can help avoid confusion or misunderstanding.
Make it easy for prospective employees to screen themselves out through an authentic interview process: There are dramatically different workloads and balance expectations across types of companies, and interview processes should allow prospective employees to see in order to effectively screen themselves out if it’s not a good fit. It’s usually much easier for the individual to screen themselves out instead of HR or the hiring manager identifying a mismatch.
Scaling up field teams, running call centers, and putting yourself in your team’s shoes
Hillary has experience in managing and rapidly training large numbers of staff, which has taught him leadership lessons which he shared with us during our conversation:
There’s no better way to learn about leadership than being thrust into managing a team: Hillary tells us about his “baptism by fire” experience in managing one of his first field teams and how an open culture of rapid feedback helped him recognize and correct challenges he was having with his team around timelines and communication.
More naturally build relationships with your team by working alongside them: Hillary also shares about a habit he has developed in making sure he spends time sitting alongside his lowest-level staff and doing their same tasks to build empathy and strong connections.
Set and communicate fair targets by putting yourself in your team’s shoes: Based on early feedback he received from past managers and teams he worked with, Hillary now tries to always think about his decisions and communication style through his team’s perspective.
Challenge #71: Decline Clients Who Don’t Fit
There can sometimes be a mismatch between your ideal niche and what prospective clients want support from you on. It can be helpful to say no to requests outside your expertise and refer other more relevant coaches in your network, who will return the favor. Here is a Forbes article on “15 Tips for Tactfully Turning Down a Potential Client” for suggestions from a range of coaches.