Remember the first time you joined a team? Whether it involved sports, academics, entertainment, politics, or anything in between, you were supposed to communicate ideas, associate with people, and work toward a specific goal. The same can be said about the team you’re on today – the one at your office. The difference, though, is that now you’re a little older, a lot wiser, and…this time, you’re the one in charge!
Teams are not simple; however, a good manager can make it look like they are. There are basic principles involved in team building and you, as a superior, play a key role. Keep in mind that people are not always going to agree on everything or anything, but good team members can at least understand one another, and, it’s part of your job to make sure that happens! Poor communication? Poor team! The first step toward accomplishing these goals is to learn as much about your applicants as possible so you have a better grasp of their drives, their expectations, and their capabilities. An Omnia® Profile will allow you to better determine what motivates them and what’s apt to make them happy enough to stay with you for the long haul. The last thing you need is a revolving door of staff that keep coming and going!
Because your pool of job candidates is probably rather large, it’s very likely that now, perhaps more than at any other time in the recent past, you’ll be required to modify some of your management techniques. You’ll need to find ways to work with people who might be less than ideal and more inclined to approach a job in a manner that’s different from the one you expect. Remember, though, that a good team has members with different background, skills and abilities. You, however, need to find a way to mix with all of them during the processes of purpose development, goal identification and conflict resolution.
Some people need to feel a sense of independence at the workplace. You may notice they have a limited interest in details and want to know only the general objectives of a new assignment. They’re results oriented, skip steps they see as unnecessary, and dislike close monitoring. If you want to keep them, don’t hover over them! Loosen the reins if you‘re a micromanager who’s in charge of freedom-loving staff members.
Complementing your self-directing workers are those who crave structure. These are individuals who need clear instructions so they can follow them precisely and not risk being wrong. Meticulous, sometimes too perfectionistic, they need you to guide them, especially when precarious situations arise. If you’re normally disinclined to keep close watch over your staff, force yourself to be more available to these conscientious workers to keep them from feeling abandoned.
To build a solid team, a leader must display a genuine sense of commitment. Help your staff set objectives that are realistic and attainable but still lofty and challenging. Show you have an ability to listen and understand, not just dictate and control. Involve your workers in the goal-setting process, as this should not only gain their acceptance of the set objectives but also clear any previously clogged communication lines.
Ask for some input from each subordinate when developing his or her goals. Keep in mind that some people like to have the final say while others expect you to decide for them! Make sure you know who’s who to avoid unwelcome confusion and misunderstandings.
Do this at least every six months to help ensure progress is being made and initial goals have not been abandoned. Be prepared to make some adjustments if your employee’s needs seem to have changed. Some individuals may require (and appreciate!) closer monitoring, more frequent assessments. Others will seem annoyed by, or lukewarm to, the entire goal-setting process.
General statements like, “You need to improve your accuracy when entering data” or “Let’s try to increase your monthly closings” sound more like ambiguous wishes than attainable objectives. Think in terms of definitive raw numbers. Reward a subordinate who makes zero mistakes in a week of data entry. Set limits to how many typing errors will be allowed per week. Inform your salesperson that he or she will need to close, for example, 5 more deals per month. Praise accomplishments; offer perks when goals are realized.
Determine your agency’s needs and then challenge your workers to fulfill them. If you need to cut annual costs or raise awareness of your agency within the industry, tie a subordinate’s rewards to his or her ability to do so. Consider less traditional goals when looking for ways to improve your staff.
Explore what inspires each one of your workers; you might be surprised to discover that what one person considers a reward is precisely what another sees as a deterrent! In addition to bonuses or a promotion, typical rewards for goal achievement often include autonomy, status symbols or public recognition. Remember, though, that your more cautious workers won’t want a great deal of autonomy! And your introverted staff members will shy away from anything that draws attention to them or puts them in the limelight!
When recognized, managed correctly and treated as an asset, your team’s diversity will be what drives it, what makes it better than any others. Differences in behavior, business tactics and demeanor can be welcomed, respected and appreciated, allowing your staff to work in harmony. Or, they can spell disaster, breeding nothing more than ongoing mutual resentment and distrust. You’re the leader. Your team’s success or failure depends -- in more ways than you might want to admit -- on you!