To continue from my previous post on A Quick Intro to Team Engagement, here are some of the tips I like to share with new Managers. These are as valid for a team that you are leading as much as they are for teams you are a part of.
Everyone knows that the old saying that there’s “never a second chance to make a first impression” is quite true. This is also a true and important reminder for teams. Building, or coming into a new team, requires a clear sense of who you are as a leader.
It’s been said that the best team leaders build a relationship with their direct reports through trust and loyalty. Another important item is staying consistent in your approach. The best way to ensure this is to set and realize that boundaries do exist when it comes to your words and actions. Your role as the “parental” figure is to protect your team, not scare them into submission. Prove to them that you can be relied on at the same time that you show your trust in them.
Some specific points to keep in mind when working with your team, in no particular order, are:
- Every opinion matters. If someone is made to feel that what they say is as valuable as anyone else, they will be more prone to participating in working sessions, brainstorming, etc. Being part of the discussion and agreements is a sure way to get buy-in for the path to take. This can’t happen without the team feeling that they can share their opinions.
- What’s not being said is as important as what is. Empathic listening is being engaged in a discussion to the point that you can see if someone is holding something back. Look for clues in body language and make yourself be open with your team and sensitive to their moods and feelings. The more you get to know your individual members, the more you will be able to see and gauge their impressions and reactions towards what the team is planning.
- Mediate. Don’t let minor disputes linger. Remind the team of their goals. They have been put together for a reason, and working together is how it will happen. Anything that gets in the way of that collaboration has to be resolved.
- Communicate. Clearly. And often. There shouldn’t be any confusion as to what’s expected of your team. Similarly, they should not be kept in the dark as to what’s going on around them. This does not mean holding constant meetings, but rather in finding a way to share information (especially important information!) with them, be it through IM Chat Groups, Emails, or impromptu stand-ups.
As you can see, and as I continue to stress, Communication is always at the heart of employee engagement and is vital to successful teams. In my next post, I’ll wrap up my thoughts on Team Engagement by sharing tips on Team Behaviours.
(Disclaimer: Mike Aragona believes that the road to greatness is built by a heavy dose of information (communication) that leads to successful collaboration. This, not only for development teams and business, but for relationships as well! His thoughts and opinions are his alone and do not reflect any person or company associated with him, alive or dead.)