I have found that when it comes to Teams, the best way to approach them is like an extended family. If you’re lucky enough to be the one pulling in or creating a team, you can pretty much ensure that (depending on how well you interview) you’re getting a group of people who share your values, drive, or maybe even sensitivity. When I speak about treating team members like family, I’m not talking about inviting them into your home and sharing all your deep, dark secrets. Instead, I’m talking about some basic, intrinsic values such as:
- Benefit of the doubt. Don’t assume something they do is purposefully negative. If an action or behaviour makes you step back and wonder what happened, don’t go on the attack. Get to the root or the why and understand the situation. Accidents happen and sometimes bad judgement calls are made. Don’t immediately believe it is malicious. Share your expectations and explain why you felt it wasn’t right. Offer training and guidance.
- Listen, with your ears AND eyes. Get to know who they are by learning how they respond and interact, not just to the words they say but “how” in speech and in body language. Does the tone they use in speaking with you match their pose? Are they hiding anger, regret, or resentment? Getting to know an employee and their strengths means you can get more accomplished by focusing on their positives.
- Trust them. You hired them for a purpose. Trust that they will do what is required. It may not be the way you would do it yourself, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be successful. If something doesn’t work, go back to the first item on this list and discover where the problem may be stemming from. Is it lack of understanding? Not being aware of how their individual positions and work enhance the group and team dynamics? Again, offer training and guidance either in reviewing operating procedures or working with an established “buddy” that can share knowledge.
Building a team and allowing the members to reach their potential is an ongoing process that will result in a strong and cohesive unit. They not only share expectations for accomplishing tasks, but trust and support one another. A team takes on a life of its own and you have to regularly nurture and maintain it, just as you do for individual employees. Using the “Family” analogy, think of what happens when a child brings home a significant other who joins the family, or, alternatively, if one leaves the “nest”. They dynamics will change and the team will adapt to the new group – hopefully in a positive way. I’ll share some thoughts on keeping the team cohesive in my follow-up post.
With a strong team and good team-building skills, employees are united around a common goal and generate greater productivity. Without good practices, the team is limited to the effort each individual can make alone. In other words:
“Individuals Play the Game, but Teams win Championships.” – Source Unknown
(Disclaimer: Mike Aragona may not have built many sports teams, but he has definitely been lucky enough to build a number of excellent Development and Support teams! Although tackle football is still frowned upon in most offices, he’s glad that at least morning scrums have caught on. His thoughts and opinions are his alone and do not reflect any person or company associated with him, alive or dead.)