As we get closer to Super Bowl Sunday, there is a lot of talk about teams. Who will win? Who will have their head in the game?
Just like in athletics, building a high-performing team in your organization requires effort and heart. When you are part of one, you feel it. Some people call it “being in the flow”.
All-star teams do not happen by luck. To build them, they take practice, discipline, and the ability to learn from mistakes.
The difference between an A team and an A+ team is the difference between a million in revenue and a billion in revenue.”
– Paul English, Kayak
Say Thank You
The reality is that many people do not spend enough time appreciating one another. A great exercise that we have used internally at Fierce requires each individual to sit at the front of the room in a chair for two minutes and listen to positive feedback from team members, saying nothing but thank you in response. Instead of hollow expressions, like, "You're fun," they need to be specific, like, "I appreciate the way you greet me every morning. You really start my day off well." The person gets to hear how they're unique, and it provides an opportunity for fellow team members to give positive feedback and ensure that it's heard.
If you don’t have time to do this exercise, you can create a “shout-out” time in some of your regular standing meetings. As the leader, make sure to set the tone by giving well-thought out feedback to kick it off.
Set Aside Time and Learn
Your job as a leader is to continue to develop and grow your team and the individuals. As John Kotter stated in Leading Change, “Ongoing training and development for the team members is critical. Some high performance teams spend as much as 30 percent of their time in training on such subjects as team building, leadership, communication, coaching, technical knowledge, and computer skills, problem-solving, budget process, conflict resolution, critical thinking, and writing. This systematic training breeds a feeling of ‘esprit de corps.’”
Invest in creating learning experiences for your team. Your team members will recognize their importance within the group, as well as improve overall. The benefits don’t stop there. After each training experience, your team is more skilled and will add more value to the organization.
Get Out of the Way
Regularly check-in with your team members and ask how you, as the leader, can support each individual. When you ask, take the time to listen and ask really good questions – draw out the real issues. Leave your expert hat off, and really dive into the conversation. Oftentimes, people do want their leader to step away more, to give more autonomy.
In order for you to get out of the way productively, go through a decision tree exercise. At Fierce, we use the analogy of a tree to facilitate these conversations. You can be delegated responsibilities at four different levels: Root, Trunk, Branch and Leaf. Each level has a clear and concise definition of what is expected for the area or project and how they interact with you, the leader. This type of clarity allows decisiveness and creates more autonomy, even if there is still approval or oversight needed.
Any other tips?