A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
How do I bring the team together?
There are a few simple but very impactful things that I have used to help bring teams together, which are prerequisites to moving past forming and storming. These revolve around The People & The Process:
- When they know why they are doing it – This is the Unifying Vision. This has to be more than a corporate slogan or fancy statement. You must expound on what the team’s goals and purposes are. Some of the people on the team only see a paycheck – show them more. They need to see the value and impact of what they do on the customer and the company. People will give more when they know “why”.
- When they know they are respected – People on the team must feel (and be!) included. Do the people on the team know each other? Next meeting let them do “self-introductions” telling who they are, what they do and a little about themselves. Encourage people to add their voices to brainstorming or strategic planning sessions. Give them a stake in the process – that is the highest form of respect for their gifts and talents. Some of your best ideas will come from people who seldom speak up!
- When they know what they are doing – Most of us want to know we are doing a good job and are being effective. If the process is chaotic and dysfunctional, it allows some people to “hide” while others work their tails off. That breeds dissent. The process should be clear and well defined (in writing) so there is no question about who is doing what. A well-defined process helps build trust and allows for measuring, monitoring, and managing. It helps determine who should be rewarded and who on the team may need help.
- When there is communication – Company rumors begin when there is an absence of communication. If you don’t tell them, they will come up with their own assumptions of what is going on – likely negative and probably not accurate. Everyone wants to feel like they are “in the know” and not left in the dark! Set up regular communications – like weekly team meetings or newsletter-style updates. You can give kudos to the team for reaching benchmarks or discuss upcoming challenges. Yes, there are some things that are too sensitive to share, but the more communication you can provide, the better.
- When they know what’s in it for them – We can tie people to the company vision, but ultimately, they are working for themselves, their families and their future. You must provide them some level of career guidance and progressive levels of opportunity. They should understand that the opportunity to earn and grow will be based on their part in helping the team/company fulfill its vision and mission. As a team leader, you must recognize that some of your people are only passing through, but some are in this for the long-haul. A true leader recognizes this and creates an environment that people are willing to give it all they have got while they are there.
In the beginning stages (forming and storming) you will notice that the greatest emphasis is on The People. The Process is important but people who are vested and bought in with high morale will move mountains with teaspoons!
All the tools and great processes will fail if people are not engaged.
The most important thing a true leader can do is to build consensus and to provide individuals a greater sense of purpose and belonging. That requires the leader be focused on…
Solving the People Puzzle!