This article is part two of a seven part series on my perspective on building teams. You can read the rest of the series on my blog at http://www.kennethbaucum.com/tag/team-building. While I’m sharing anonymous examples of situations based on real experiences, the series should not be construed as an attack or disparagement on any specific organization I’m involved with, but rather as a list of my thoughts on how to improve teams in general. I look forward to your constructive criticisms and thoughts.
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Last time, I introduced a few thoughts I have about millennials and what some of the strengths and weaknesses of folks in my age group might be. My intent was to begin to build the foundation on which the rest of my school of thought is built. Hopefully you have begun to see that even having grown up in a different age, we can all have valuable input and we can work together to bring about change and progress for future generations to enjoy and build upon.
Now that we’ve got the first part behind us, let’s talk about building a team. I’m a member of several teams right now, and while each has a different focus and list of responsibilities, each one seems to include the same basic types of behaviors, and ultimately experiences the same opportunities for improvement. Maybe through the sharing of knowledge and experiences we can all learn something new.
There is a trigger in each of us that loves to get pulled. We all search for a feeling of acceptance and belonging. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to fit into a group. The crisis however is in how you go about fitting in. Being a “yes” man is not always a good thing. Sometimes you have to say no and start ignoring things that don’t matter, in order to focus on and protect what does matter.
Winning hearts and minds
At some point, we all will face a time where we must garner support and bring other people to our side and help them to adopt our way of thinking on a topic. How you bring people over is very important to the success of the mission. Deceit and lies have no place here. Honesty is key to gaining sustainable results.
Accomplishments and acknowledgments
Quite often, millennials are charged with wanting something for nothing – for receiving a participation trophy even after the team suffers a loss. While I don’t think it’s worth rewarding everyone for everything, I do believe that it’s good to feed each individual’s sense of accomplishment with real acknowledgement when that person has put in effort to make the result tangible.
Pleasing people, winning their hearts and minds and acknowledging their accomplishments are all great ways to show other folks that you care, and that their contribution is important. The feeling of self-worth and value will keep your friends, employees and teammates close for a long time. When you treat people right, they tend to want to stay nearby.
As you build your team, here are some thoughts on specific ways you can help show your team that you care and that you value their input.
Communication – Frequent and relevant communication with your team will greatly enhance their feeling of involvement and belonging. A lack of communication could signal a lack of planning, a lack of respect for your team’s opinions, and a lack of desire to receiving their help. Enhancing your communication with them opens up the flow of information and helps build trust and credibility among all contributing members.
Training – What better way to show how much you care than to help spread the knowledge of how to do things and how to handle situations with your team. Just as communication can enhance trust, training can build confidence and provide tangible proof that you believe in the team’s mission and members.
Shared Goals and Values – It helps to know why you are doing things. Why are you trying to close this sale? Why are you pushing to upgrade this software? Why are you working late hours? Why are you asking your team to come in over the weekend? Why are we meeting so early in the morning or late in the evening to hammer out these plans? Why do we show up, rain or shine to train? In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.
Working together and playing together – Strong teams are made of people who trust each other and can find ways to work together despite their differences. Building relationships with other people can be difficult work, especially in the face of disagreements and high stress situations. When possible, put a few events on the calendar where your team can meet together and get to know each other without the stress of a looming deadline or the pressure of the performance of their regular duties. An afternoon in the park might be just what the doctor ordered to keep morale and spirits lifted, while building positive memories for your team.
In the next article, we’ll begin to deep-dive into the topic of communication, where we’ll discuss some specific examples of times where better communication can lead to better results and the building of trust and relationships, rather than the destruction of credibility and respect.