In the past few months weve looked at leadership, communication and change management as tools that we can learn and use in taking our businesses forward. But these are skills that we dont just use for ourselves; they come into their own when we apply them to our teams and in fact your team and their attitude and performance are the ultimate reflection of your skills as a manager!
Ive said before that people are our secret weapon in business and the way we put together and utilise peoples skills in teams acts as an amplifier for all kinds of influences on the performance of your business. You can get much much more out of any investment that you make in the business if your team works well with it, whether it is new equipment or ways of working.
Before we go on lets just be clear what I mean by a team, its not a group of people working in the same room, its a number of people organised to work together-please take note of the word organised, and if theyre organised then someone (you) has got to put some work in.
Lets just assume that you have an established team, but have the will to make whatever changes are necessary to optimise performance. Perhaps youve just gained the team as part of your dizzy rise up the corporate ladder!
Before you do anything, take time to look at your team, time to understand how they work and how effective they are. Think and learn before you act always, always, take this sound approach. Have a look at your team make-up(not the lipstick!)the mix of people and skills. Is it right for your business as it is now and going forward? Too often teams that were great in the early stages of a start-up are not right when the business is more mature and by its nature has to operate in a more conventional way. Anyway bibles have been written on team compositionyou can work your way through these or you could even talk to us about itits what we do. The essential thing is balance, like a soccer team doesnt need eleven strikers, or a cricket team eleven fast bowlers so your team needs the right mixand the optimum mix changes as your business changes.
One critical aspect of teamwork is the reciprocal nature of the relationship. You want your team to work hard? Make sure that you do! You want to be able to trust them? Make sure that they can trust you! You like to enjoy your work dont you? Create an atmosphere that lets this happen for everyone.
The things that you need to do whilst on the way to getting great team performance are not easy, if they were then everybody would run great teamsand they dont! Average managers run average teams and get the performance they deserve.
To step up a gear you need to be brave, youll need to do lots of things that average managers dont or cant do. Often better performance is associated with more individual responsibilitya greater freedom to act: are you up to loosening the reins a little? Many arent! This downward flow of responsibility carries its risks of coursetherell be a cock-up from time to timehelp them to sort it out, show them how to avoid it in future, support them but let them know that it shouldnt happen again. Encourage them to tell you first about their mistakes this way things can be sorted out quickly. You dont want to hear about your teams slip-ups from someone else! Neither do you want things within the team to become so competitive that team members stop supporting each other. Theres a delicate balance to be struck between competition and cooperation, you need to work at this and take every opportunity to reinforce the sense of working for each other. Frequent restatement of your team and business objectives helps here. Once established, the sense of common purpose binds people together and makes it easier for people to take on their newly gained freedom to act; they have a framework, a reference, which helps decision-making.
I know that there are lots of you out there who look on people as a source of grief and problems in your life. How many times have you heard someone say: This would be easy if it werent for the people or something very similar?
It truly doesnt need to be like this, most people you have in your team have assets that can be used to help the business and they can be encouraged, trained to operate well in a team environment. If they cant or wont then you need to act quickly, being the boss gives you some additional responsibilities that you cant hand down!
The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. (Theodore Roosevelt)
Stephanie Greasley has considerable experience as a senior business professional, operating internationally with more that 25 years experience, including 15 years in the ADC industry. She held management positions with PSC, Symbol Technologies and ScanSourcewhere as MD she took the company from start-up to its position as Europes leading automatic data capture distributor. She now works independently as an executive coach and business growth consultant in her own company CCI (Coaching Consulting & Implementation Ltd). See www.cciltd.uk.com