How do we build confidence in others?
As project management professionals, one of our most important roles is to bring out the best in our team. This includes not just building a great team, but encouraging collaboration and empowering people around us. We achieve this success by helping individuals improve their confidence and make them see that their contributions and talents matter. The rewards are big—from improved employee engagement and performance to increased productivity. Here are five ways to instill confidence in your team members:
1. Help people learn and develop.
Confidence and competence are closely related. If team members feel that they’re not developing professionally and that their skills are being under-utilized, they’ll quickly begin to doubt their abilities. To increase your team members’ confidence, you have to help them improve and learn new skills so they can play a stronger role in contributing to the project.
One way of doing this is to give your team access to courses, training and conferences. Another way is to give them time to study or to run a pet project they’re passionate about. You can also set up knowledge-sharing sessions to the benefit of the entire team, or even the entire department.
2. Delegate step-by-step.
A great way to build up your team members’ competence—and thereby their confidence—is to delegate specific tasks that will help them grow in an area they’re interested in. Just be careful that you don’t delegate too soon or too quickly; and don’t leave people to their own devices when they’re in new territory. When someone lacks confidence and competence it’s far better to gradually give them more responsibility and to stick close by them until they no longer need you. Your job is to help you team members set reachable goals and to break difficult tasks into smaller steps. In that way people slowly but surely gain confidence as they start to master each step of the assignment.
3. Focus on people’s strengths.
As a project manager or team leader you’re likely to have a fair bit of influence over who does what. You can use that to actively build up someone’s confidence by giving them work that they’re genuinely good at and interested in. People’s confidence (and motivation) will generally grow when they’re given the chance to put their skills into practice and show mastery. The question you need to ask is: How well do you know each of your team member’s strengths. To learn more, check out Tom Rath’s best-selling book, Strengths Finder.
4. Be supportive.
One of the most fundamental ways to boost people’s confidence is to actively support them and build them up emotionally. And one of the best ways to create a strong supportive foundation is to connect with individuals one-on-one. When you do, make space to sincerely listen to their concerns and help them realize how much they have to contribute. When you get to know the members of your team at a more personal level (e.g., what motivates them; what really matters to them) you’ll intuitively know how to best support them.
Another way to demonstrate your support is to actively praise a team member and provide positive feedback when someone does something well. We all like to feel appreciated and it takes so little to say “Thanks, that was a superb job you did.”
5. Embrace failure.
Another great way to build people up is to let them know that it’s OK to make mistakes—as long as they don’t keep making the same ones. When you remove the fear of failure you make people feel safe. As a result, team members open up and are more willing to contribute and experiment. Knowing that they have the space to learn from their mistakes rather than being penalized for them builds their confidence and takes away an enormous chunk of negative energy and worry. Essentially, you free people up to pursue that which is truly important: The successful delivery of the project.
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