A great team is difficult to build, it is a challenge to make a team work and maintain performance if the leadership isn’t correct. This weeks blog we share some of our tips.
Building the team
The first thing is to build a team, one mistake commonly made is selecting members who are the same or we feel will fit together well, we seek out people who are similar to us or have the same qualities, especially new leaders who just want a harmonious team to be in charge of. If you need a team to perform in diversity and develop their skills we need a good mix of skills, personalities and motivators to reach our ultimate business goal. When we build teams we review the nine Belbin team roles model, there are free and downloadable tests which you can ask team members to complete if you don’t have enough experience working with them personally to be able to assign their roles. Check out the model at https://www.belbin.com/about/belbin-team-roles/
A good mixed team will work collaboratively if you give freedom of tasks and roles. Assessing the team goal will help to see how flexible that can be, for example if the team are working on a specific task from end to finish the roles can be variable and different members input will go into each area according to their strengths and development needs. As team trust builds they will naturally exchange skills and develop each other so the team becomes even more diverse and able to perform if one of the original roles were to leave the team and as new members join the skills and strengths will be passed on provided the team is maintained well.
Lead, never shove
When managing a team we need to remember we want to lead them to success. Challenging, pushing and being confrontational can cause a team to lose respect and then go their own way. You may get one or two people stepping into the leadership role to undermine your authority and cause resistance and distraction in the team to knock the project or tasks off course. When leading a team, lead by example, encourage discussion, participation and help individuals to develop by giving them more responsibility. A good team leader will always aim to build the team up ready to step in their shoes so the team is always successful long term. This is an excellent way to lead as the team become self sufficient and you can then lead from the back to ensure a steady pace is maintained.
One of our favourite inspirations is Simon Sinek, he talks in great depth about team leading and explores the real depths to the art of managing. It isn’t ever just about setting targets and demanding results, a great team need to feel respected and valued to want to achieve their goal.
Maintaining the team
Once your team is established you need to observe carefully, discuss progress regularly and offer support. It’s important to act on information quickly and assist with overcoming barriers. If your team are not on target, its good practice to gather and explore difficulties... is the target unrealistic? Is everyone putting in equal effort? It could be that the target needs lowering or members roles need to be changed so specialist skills are focused in a specific area. Another mistake frequently made is allowing one or two members to live by their own rules or disrespect the team by doing things that the members feel unacceptable, when this happens it can cause the team to slowly break apart. Team members focus on the disruptive behaviour more than the task and begin to lose faith in the leader for not correcting the issues or not being decisive in removing the individual. When you leave individuals who work against the grain to continue to do what they chose, your other team members will observe this and in turn slowly break off or begin to rebel themselves as they no longer feel respected or valued and they will most certainly not give either of those back.
When teams are performing well it is really important to acknowledge and celebrate to embed a desire for success. Continually giving negative feedback, surprising them with a grilling or ‘telling off’ or demanding more than is achievable will quickly lose the morale and all the individuals will begin to mumble about how they feel and the behaviour breeds, you quickly lose connection with individuals. People need to feel part of success so occasional praise and celebration will regroup and focus a team on their common goal.
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