Remember when you started your business a few years ago? You may have had visions of scaling up, living large, having a large team of people, or a company with more than a thousand employees. Or you may have decided to pursue your passion and see where it leads you. You could be a team of one or two.
Either way, sooner or later, you can’t do it all alone. You’ll need to hire people to help you. They could be sitting in the same location with you, or in a totally different country and time zone. They may be full-time employees or hourly contractors.
Let’s assume that you’ve hired people and now you are charged with bringing them all together into a smoothly functioning, cohesive team. How do you do that?
Extraordinary Teams Have These Things in Place
Here are the common themes that Extraordinary Teams share:
- People know why they are part of the team. What are they expected to bring to the role: personality, intellect, experience, skills, education?
- Team members, including the leader, need to build and maintain trust. Without strong trust, a team will never accomplish as much as it could. The job may get done, but it is accelerated with a strong foundation of trust.
- Team members need to understand the goals, mission, vision, the “why” of the team. What is the common mission that they are there to support? Does each of them buy into that mission? People want to champion a cause or goal that they endorse.
- There is organizational commitment to the goal/mission/vision. Companies provide finances and resources to support the mission. There is sponsorship and a decision-making process from leaders.
- People understand their individual and team roles. They know who is supposed to do what, when, where and how. They have the tools they need to do their work.
- There is incentive to stay with the team. Each person knows what’s in it for them.
How Do You, the Leader, Make this Happen?
Let’s use an example from gardening. If you wanted to grow specific vegetables in your garden, you could take an easy approach and throw old vegetables out into your yard. You could even buy a pack of seeds and do the same thing. With any luck, something would take root. But birds, animals, sun and rain would take a toll, and you may or may not have the garden you want.
A better approach would be to set aside a spot in your yard with the right amount of sun and shade for what you want to grow. Do a little research — what will grow well in your area? What’s the right time of year to plant? What kind of seeds or seedlings should you buy? Do you have animals or predators that will eat your plants before they provide a crop? Netting and poles may need to be purchased. And when it all goes right, you get a lovely crop of vegetables and get to eat healthy and clean.
What Does that Have to Do with You and Your New Team? Your new team is just like that vegetable garden. You get a better result when you provide the time and opportunity for each team member, plus all of them together, to create a trusting environment where people know the value they bring to the team.
When you bring that team together, in person or virtually through face-to-face technology, you can create your mission and vision together. People naturally support what they had a hand in creating. You can talk about roles and assignments together so each one knows what the others are doing.
You, the leader, can provide that time and space, plus the facilitation needed to get people aligned and working together.
How Can You Create Your Extraordinary Team?
Rest assured, you can do this alone. Here are some points to consider when you decide to DIY.
- Do you have the expertise to facilitate a team-building session with your own team? I’ve done it, but it’s not easy. You can’t really “play along” on equal footing with your team.
- Do you know how to build trust quickly within the group? No matter how much we think others trust us, the leader is still “the boss” to many and it’s tough to step in and out of that role during a team session.
- Do you have a process in place already to walk the team through what they need to do, know and understand? A professional facilitator knows the process to take people through to get where you need to go.
- Can you afford the time and resources to potentially do it wrong, and then regroup?
Leaders often call in an expert to help them by facilitating a team-building session or retreat. Great results come from these sessions, and leaders get to participate as equals with their teams. Their goals get met. And a strong foundation is set in place for future work by the team.
What Can You Expect to Gain through Teambuilding?
Here are some of the results we’ve achieved working with leaders:
- Ten percent increase in leadership engagement; 31 percent increase in team member engagement.
- New startup team builds new functions and processes while changing norms and culture.
- Leaders now make decisions together and report back to their senior leader, rather than waiting for him to solve the problems.
Your results should always be based on your own definition of success. What do you need to do to build a stronger team?
Laurie D Battaglia, MS-OD and associate certified coach, is CEO and Workplace Strategist with Aligned at Work™ in Scottsdale, Ariz. A NAWBO Phoenix Chapter member, she partners with her husband and their team to provide consulting, facilitation, training and coaching to leaders and their teams. As a Certified Leadership Ambassador for Take the Lead Women she specializes in working with women in the workplace, especially around the issue of power. Contact her at (602) 888-0975 or by email.