The end of a Calendar Year is a great opportunity for every senior Manager to take stock. It’s a chance to pause and ‘zoom out’ from the stage, in the metaphoric theatre that is our daily business life, and view your teams achievements from the heights of the dress circle.
This year, I have seen a number of great accomplishments ticked off and these accomplishments have been all the sweeter due to the fact that they have been significant team achievements. I can tell you, my team is a great team.
"There is often nothing more time consuming than constantly ‘on-boarding’ other people’s team members on a project"
Any leader worth their salt wants a great team. Every leader’s team is their own foundation stones on which sits layers of skill, knowledge, intuition, and ultimately success. You must be able to trust these attributes in your team and you must know when to challenge or guide your team accordingly to great outcomes.
“That’s much easier said than done”, I hear you exclaim. However, as a manager, you have significant amounts of control over your destiny if you make the right choices. I would like to share some key advice I’ve learnt in my search to gather great teams around me.
The Four Decisions
I make four decisions when I move roles or create new teams. These decisions are listed below:
The first decision, is to always be a team player. Even if your title says you are at the top of your businesses figurative tree you need to be capable of empathy, and consultative in your approach.
Importantly, this means you do not micro-manage your team. Good teams are adverse to micro-management and it cripples independent thought. Being able to step in and out of group discussions reinforces you are comfortable with your team members and the approaches that they take in executing the tasks within their roles. Decision one builds trust and removes an ‘us v/s them’ sentiment.
The second decision is to always be a leader for your team. Teams need and respect leaders. Leaders show guidance within their team and can also get their hands a little dirty. Fear will never bring you truly great outcomes. If you show leadership and have an open persona, teams begin to organically grow in confidence.
Confidence leads to better decisions and more alternatives to problems. Teams have a higher chance of bringing a great solution to the table compared to what a mere solitary manager can create. Note decision one, you’re a part of the team therefore a part of the solution.
The third decision is to allow everyone to have their chance to lead within your team. You must create a legacy and have solid succession plans in place (even if it’s just to allow planned leave). Sometimes your team will nominate a leader, sometimes a leader will stand up. Regardless of the source you want every single team member to be capable of leading when the time is right. This means you must also ensure you monitor your teams personality traits and know when certain leaders-to-be need a little boost. Cultivate the next generation of leaders.
Decision four is implicit trust. Great teams work on trust. Trust from you and trust within each other.
Ensuring a culture of trust will ensure a culture of success. Trust also allows for flexibility and allows people to ask for help when they fall outside of either an individual or team comfort zone.
I believe the four decisions above will also ultimately retain your team. Trust and stability is the key to your success.
You’re Not The Only Team
Never forget, you work with more than just your own team. These rules should be used when working with third party providers as well.
When you create relationships and look towards others for solutions, remember these companies are often only as good as their team members. Make sure they have the appropriate culture to keep their key players and therefore keep your shared intellectual property at hand. There is often nothing more time consuming than constantly ‘on-boarding’ other people’s team members on a project.
It’s Never Plain Sailing
Key to any great overall team is people management. All leaders know this can often take a surprising amount of time so I have summarised some key items that I now play by when looking for new team members or assessing current ones.
i. Do not simply look for people that are clones. People that are diverse have diverse ideas.
ii. Hire people to work ‘with’. You want people that are eager to learn and eager to share information and solutions.
iii. Never be afraid to hire the young or the old. You want youthful enthusiasm and aged wisdom – “What kind of team would win a Trivia Night?”
iv. “Watch for the warning signs” – It’s never business Utopia, so trust your gut when you sense an issue
a. You should never have to tell someone what to do over and over
b. “Faking it until they make it” is not a strategy
c. Question yourself when reviewing poor performance - “Does a leopard actually ever change its spots?”
I believe, behind every great success is a great team and I encourage you to build your own highly successful team and always remember - You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but you definitely want that person on your team.