While talking about leading people, a friend recently asked me, “How do you get them to work as a team?”
My friend opened her own business, found a niche, and grew rapidly to meet demand for her services. Things are great, except she’s miserable. That’s because she’s had to hire staff and fire staff and replace staff. She doesn’t want to be a manager.
The answer for my friend—or anyone who’s not interested in managing—may be to hire an office
manager or chief of staff. But her question is valid for those committed to transforming a group into a team. Here’s how I did it:
Hire for cultural fit, not just skill set.
If you doubt a candidate will mesh with your team, don’t hire them, no matter how qualified they are. Time spent finding better candidates is time saved later, managing conflicts or replacing someone.
Create ways for your team to get to know each other.
Have the new guy spend time with each team member to learn what they do. People feel good talking about their work, and it’s a great ice-breaker and orientation.
Pair people for select projects, especially if success relies on mutual dependency. They’ll learn from and appreciate each other’s complementary skills.
Take time for a weekly or bi-weekly team meeting, and use it as a forum for learning and routine updates.
Make your team meeting a “safe zone” for venting frustration, sharing news, or just being silly. It’s down time well spent for heads to clear and people to bond.
Help the team learn from each other.
Encourage them to ask each other for help or information, not just you.
Ask them to take turns leading team meetings, presenting topics and guest speakers from other parts of the organization. This fosters their development, enhances visibility, and builds communication skills.
Assign them each a news “beat” and to be the team subject matter expert on a specific area of the business. Expands everyone’s knowledge and shortens the newbie’s learning curve.
Gather the team as a practice audience when one member is preparing for a presentation. Great way to gather friendly feedback and to feel supported for the big meeting.
Eat lunch as a team once a month and toast victories – big and small.
In meetings, give the team context around any special effort or personal victory related to updates being shared.
Ask the big boss to recognize the team and members’ accomplishments.
What ideas do you have for transforming a group into a team? Let me know and I’ll share in a future Consider This. Check this space again for thoughts on leading people.