How many times have we heard the pointed phrase – there’s no i in team?
Well it’s wrong! There IS an i in team, it’s YOU…
Without a great leader, a team is just a bunch of people. Stumbling through a day, without a shared purpose, without any standards to aim for, and without a goal or prize to strive for. So, at best, you can expect the ‘team’ to show up at their start times, and go home at home times. Anything over and above this will come from enthusiastic and gifted people, rather than the team.
So, put the i firmly in team and take responsibility for it. There is no team without you, the leader. Their success is your success and their failings are your failings.
Here’s how you can put the i back in team…
I is for Inspire – As their leader you should give them a role model to follow. Show them a career to aim for. Show them successes to shoot for. You can’t be seen to make mistakes and you never lose your cool. You make things happen, and you always know the right thing to say. You are like a doctor, you make your team member feel better than when they approached you. Never make them feel worse, never make them sad. Unless you don’t want them in your team, in which case, get rid of them quickly, before they infect anyone else. Act firmly and fairly, but act decisively, for the good of the team.
I is for Individual – Each of your team has their own personality, their own strengths, their own weakness. You can count on them for some things, but not others. They have some very endearing and positive traits, but also perhaps some negative and annoying ones. On balance, they are right for your team, or you wouldn’t keep them. So, nurture the positive, and work to reduce the negative, but always respect their uniqueness. Often a negative is still a positive, but from a different perspective. It is your job to champion their strengths, refocus their weaknesses, but make sure they know they are appreciated for both.
I is for include – No one likes to be left out. Your team member works in a team because they prefer it that way. If they wanted to work alone, they’d be a postman, or a computer developer. So, make sure you include them all. Even the ones that hold back or stay quiet most of the time. Stamp out any favouritism, bullying, negative chatter and gossip. It’s your job to make sure they feel involved and included. You must never have favourites.
I is for Incentivise – A common purpose unites successful and committed people. What incentives do you have in place for your team? This doesn’t have to be financial, although there should be some financial incentive. Why should they give you their best work, what’s the incentive? Are you nice to work for? Do you thank and appreciate them when they do a great job? Do you make time to discuss and reflect on their development and performance? Do you spend time getting to know them? You can incentivise your team by being flexible with their working hours, treating them occasionally, celebrating success, organising social outings. It’s your job to give your team a reason for them giving their best, and that reason should be your gratitude and appreciation.
I is for Important – Your team are your most treasured asset. Without them, you would fall under the workload and pressure. Always say thank you. Always take the time to brief well and also to debrief. Never cancel or postpone a meeting with a team member, this just tells them they are not as important as whatever you’ve bumped them for. It’s your job to look for opportunities to make your team members feel important, and valued.
I is for Improve – Most people want to be better. They may want to earn more money, have more flexibility or more responsibility. They may want your job. Do you know how they want to improve? Find out, and help them get there. It’s your job to make sure your team see their development plans here and not somewhere else.
I is for Indicate – Do they know right from wrong? What is acceptable and what is not acceptable? You have to be clear and indicate the kind of behaviour you expect. This is when you need to be clear and consistent. It’s your job to set the standard of acceptable behaviour and acceptable quality of work. And you need to be the role model.
I is for Invest – Put time into your team. Doing things yourself because it’s quicker than explaining it to your team member will lead to only one outcome – you will end up with no team, so you’ll have to do everything yourself. It’s your job to invest time in your team to make sure they can do everything for you, so that you are left to take care of everything above, and so that you can focus on the development of your business and your clients.
I is for Innovate – How can you make things better for your team? Don’t get stuck in the way things are, or have been. If you can make them better for your team, in order to achieve all of the above, then bring about change. It’s your job to stay ahead of any potential problem that could result in an unhappy team member, or worse still a voluntary leaver.
I is for Impress – It’s about them, not you. You have to impress them with your knowledge, your ability, your contacts, your resourcefulness, your knack of getting things done and your unflappable consistent calm. It’s your job to put them first.
Your team is a valuable asset. It’s your job to protect it. Good team leaders do not lose team members unless they want to.
Learn a new mantra, and repeat after me:
There IS an i in team, and it’s me.
I’m just facing the other way.
At my team.