Ask any employer how to build a dedicated and reliable team, and you're likely to get a lot of different answers. Why? People value different aspects of teamwork. Individual management styles and preferences affect what people believe to be important.
I'm no different. As an Operations Manager, I have benefited from having worked across a wide spectrum of industries over the years and managed a variety of individuals and effective teams. That doesn't make my opinion the final word of teambuilding wisdom, but it has afforded me the opportunity to see that a number of factors can and do cross all businesses and industries.
What might shock some of you is that most of these influencing factors are surprisingly simple and easy, and should be applied automatically, in order to manage effectively:
For teams to be fully committed and engaged, they want honesty from their leaders. They don't want feeble attempts at winging an answer. Don't know the answer to a question? Just say so. Also, be up front with facts – don't hide things. And definitely do not lie. If you do you will forever lose credibility when (not if) you are found out.
We spend time hiring and training the ‘right’ people, so we should trust them to the role we hired them to do. Show that we don't trust someone and they'll soon be doing the bare minimum, and only when told. So much for 'teamwork' at that point.
If we want respect from our teams, we've got to give it in order for it to be returned. Mutual respect involves being polite, talking with people as people, listening attentively, and seriously considering what they tell us. Never assume that just because you are the boss you are better, and that nobody else’s opinions, thoughts, or ideas don’t count.
People want recognition for what they do. The answer is not to rely solely on individual or team recognition. A balance is needed. Acknowledge people when they do well – and do it publicly. When the team meets a milestone or the end goal, be sure to recognise the collaboration of the stakeholders that made it happen.
Without support, teams struggle to maintain their footing. They need to know and see that when they are given objectives and are working towards them, they have the support needed to get the job done.
When putting together an effective team, take the time to appraise yourself of their individual talents. That way you can assign them to the correct area of the project or business, where they will feel most valuable.
It is a good idea to get in the habit of benchmarking the team’s performance relative to others on an annual basis. By reviewing the strengths and weaknesses from their own ratings and seeing them in black-and-white, you will find it easier to gain consensus on the areas that need improvement.
If you are a supervisor, manager, or CEO, you may think that the factors detailed above seem obvious, and that you already practice them on a regular basis.
In my opinion, effectively managing teams is a skill that can be honed. Take time to review your approach, and encourage 360-degree feedback; you never know what you may learn.