Forming a strong team requires intentional focus from both the leader and the team itself.
For a team to work, every member must want to be a part of the team and want the team to succeed. I’m looking at some of the news (some true some rumor) coming from the Cleveland Cavaliers and there seems to be a disconnect at the moment. If they don’t close ranks their dream of a repeat is in jeopardy. And like a sports team, if a business team’s members do not pull together, the team will fail in making its obligations.
Staying with the basketball analogy, one of my most favorite movies is Hoosiers. It is a great story of how a small high school decided that as a team they could do more than any single talent on the team could do. Game after game the coach would not let the best shooter on the team take the shot but instead he got the team to pull together as one.
While business is not a sport – there are no trophies or super bowl rings to be won – I have seen business teams do the impossible because they worked together and overcame obstacles. They beat the timeline, overcame the competition and drove their organization to a favorable position.
You’re a team member – how do you “choose to be a great team member”?
- Learn what your team members do.
It will help you understand how to support them. It will make communication better. It will allow you to cover during holidays and sick days because you keep the bigger vision in mind.
- Be approachable.
Trust is built on open relationships. Trust is built over time. Play the long game.
- Don’t gossip or talk behind your team members’ backs.
If you have an issue, get it on the table. Nothing destroys a team more than lack of honesty. Internal strife like we are seeing on the Cavs may hurt their chances come playoff time.
Being a great team member is hard work. However, the rewards can be huge. And like the Hoosiers you can win big. There may not be a trophy in it for you but the self satisfaction of a job well done may be worth it all.
When planning a project, the one thing that has the most risk yet seems talked about the least is the people doing the project. Time, risk, quality all are dependent on having the right people doing the work.
I think we all know that, yet my experience has been the “people” and the “task” conversations tend to be separate.
Tasks are never separate from the people. So how do you account for people in your project plan…
- Early on, make an assessment of your team’s skills. Include how fast they can accomplish something and at what quality level.
- You don’t always get to change who is on the team. While it is important to get the “right people in the right seat on the bus”, that can take time. So understanding who you have and how they effect the timing of your project plan is important to the success of your plan.
- Identify who on the team are single point failures. Develop risk management plans if something should take them off your project.
Understanding that people are not robots and that the schedule has to be flexible to absorb the unpredictability of people is key to a strong, executable project plan.
When I first entered the work world, (pre-computer days) if my boss had ten things to do; he delegated 6 and did 4 himself. As the recipient of some of those tasks, my concept of delegation was task oriented. Go see so and so, create this report, and do this or that. Who did what or better yet, who “got” to do what. From my limited perspective, I thought delegating meant distribution of work.
Over the years my perception of delegation has changed as I’ve grown. I’ve found that the bosses that have helped (yes, sometimes forced) me grow the most almost have never given me “tasks”. Instead, they gave me a goal, a direction, or a challenge (“opportunity”) to solve. They delegated what needed to be accomplished and let me figure out the tasks to accomplish the goal. As my boss, they had delegated something far more scarier than a task. They had delegated objectives (goals). My delegation plate, which started out filled with tasks, morphed into a mix of tasks and objectives.
While the ratio of tasks to objectives has changed over the years the one thing I’ve learned, as a leader, true delegation is about setting up the team with an objective/goal, direction to achieve, and letting them own it. Healthy teams own their decisions and outcomes. I read a John Maxwell book on leadership a long time ago and he had something like 20 laws of leadership. One of them I remember was “The Law of the Lid”. That the team would only grow as tall as the lid placed on them. By placing only tasks in front of the team, it will never grow past the boss. Hence, they will be stunted in due time. But as the boss you’re job is to let your team grow by gradually changing the mix of their delegation plate.
While tasks are much easier to delegate than objectives, as one person, you can only really drive so many things; a subset of all the things that must be done for a healthy company. As a leader you can stretch yourself by delegating objectives rather than tasks. You’ll grow as will your team. Here’s the kicker, I promise you it will NOT be easy. Growth never is. But where’s the fun if it was all easy? Think about it.