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5 Reasons why managing your team is like baking sourdough

I’ve recently started baking sourdough.

When a lovely friend gave me the most amazing loaf recently, I nonchalantly asked her for the recipe (Cue chuckles from those of you who are sourdough experts!).

“Well”, my friend replied, “it’s really more of a science than a recipe”.

And she wasn’t wrong.

Have you ever seen how Sourdough is made?

It’s a two-day process involving feeding a starter and creating a leaven before any actual dough is even considered.

What I’ve realised by my 4th attempt, is that this process is a personal investment.

It’s gone way past simply producing a loaf of bread.

Every single attempt is different, dependent on ingredients, hydration, time and even the temperature of the water and the external ambience.

The best result requires attention, observation, nurturing and caring (and some good, friendly advice!)

And it occurred to me this morning (as I was mid-process, ready for my Saturday bake) that it’s very much like developing the individuals in a team.

1. Ingredients – everyone in your team is different; different personalities, cultures, goals, mindset, behaviours. And these can change from day to day depending on what’s going on around them

2. Attention – as leaders we need to be present and focused, every day. How we show up will impact our team results. We need to look after ourselves to create resilience, which will allow us to support others

3. Observation – it’s not enough to show up when challenges occur or when our people are struggling. We need to get to know our teams, understand their values and motivations so that we can notice the small ‘tells’ which suggest that something isn’t quite right

4. Nurturing – how are we helping our team to grow? How can we tweak the recipe to create an even better experience for our people and the business? Have we discussed development areas? Are we using mentoring and coaching skills to explore their growth opportunities?

5. Caring – having an emotional interest in the wellbeing of the team; regular (work and non-work) check-ins, demonstrating value, recognising great work, saying ‘thank you’, listening, showing compassion. Genuinely having a vested interest in your team success

There is no, one answer. Things won’t turn out the same every time. But when you have the right ingredients, the right mindset and the emotional connection to your purpose, you’re giving yourself and your team the very best opportunity for a great result.

If you’d like to explore mentoring as an organisation or if you are People Manager in need of a mentor, please get in touch to discuss whether we might be a good fit and how we might be able to work together.

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