If only “electric leading” was a real thing. It actually could be with these steps. Turn the “fun” moniker into a reality. After all, if one is a super charged leader, doesn’t that mean reporting team members will produce results with much higher voltage? It depends. A leader’s style and charisma certainly rubs off on others, but team building is comprised of a specific set of actions. Rarely do teams form just because a group of people work together, even if they’ve worked out of the same office and parked next to each other for more than a decade. A team requires active leadership effort and energy. But where does one start to build such a dream? Just like in house building, one begins with the plans before touching dirt or digging beneath it. In leading teams, one begins with what is called framing. Follow these steps in the order provided and the only remaining team challenge will be channeling the energy of the team’s excitement.
Double meaning intact, framing is used here to both frame up the current team’s status and what the leader desires from the team’s future behavior. What exists and what does one wish to build? Even if the team is already in existence, keeping them or getting them charged up again is akin to a remodel. Sometimes one needs new fixtures or wishes to make an upgrade or two. Sometimes one realizes that what used to be just fine performance is no longer acceptable. What is the current status and what is the framework around what is desired? That is the starting question that must be answered. From this information, one begins to see areas that need action. Other framing questions include: Who fits? Who doesn’t? Who does just okay work and who is usually creating all the problems? Who needs what in the way of resources? Who needs to practice being the team’s informal leader? Frame answers to each question as succinctly as possible to allow for simple action items to begin to appear.
Each answer to the framing questions provides a spark for the flames that will appear behind a charged team’s pace and results. But, what’s next? The leader with a desire to build a charged team begins building. From the assessment of the team’s current condition, list the actions that now take priority. Who needs development? Who needs to be transferred? With whom does the leader need to set more effective boundaries? What are the barriers? What is draining team members? What do they need and where is it obtained? Unlike building an office, the blocks that follow structure and produce the results a leader desires are people. People need more than a paycheck to be motivated. Build in what is needed. Address existing gaps in resources or training. Ensure there is a match between roles and the people in them. And connect, communicate, motivate, and recognize them.
What is needed next occurs once the team is built or a new environment in which the team performs has been provided. Maybe the boss let go of that bad apple or finally provided new equipment since everyone was griping. Once that happens, now what? Both preventative and regularly scheduled maintenance is needed on teams and with team members. Teams of people are not a “set it and forget it” mechanism. Fixing problems and filling gaps will provide jolts of energy and are usually as temporary as the excitement around a 2% raise. They are like finally fixing the crack in the foundation. Necessary, but not very sexy. The steps of team maintenance include providing Frank with that safety training before he ends up with an injury. They include finding a backup for Jessica at the front desk just in case she gets sick.
They include taking the team out for a fun activity just to build the bond and take a break before they call out because they desperately need a mental health day. Maintenance is about monitoring the team’s stress, workload, and requests. Stay on top of them and the team will stay motivated.
There is a difference between motivated and driven. Teams well-maintained perform well and are motivated to handle inconvenient issues such as the one difficult customer because they enjoy what they do and feel valued. Teams able to develop new skills and whose leader continually encourages and provide development, solve the problem that made the customer difficult to begin with because they feel em-powered. Develop each and every team member because the needs of each one matters; just ask the customers who get to work with the team’s top performer.
When a leader is charged with creating a team or motivating one already in existence, the first step, referred to as framing, is all about thinking. Next comes building, the step for taking action. Maintenance follows, in which the leader cross-trains and closely monitors. And while development seems to be the final step, it is the action that consistently goes on in the background. Much like those not well-versed in electricity could believe magic makes light when one flips a switch, those leaders not well-practiced in teamwork could experience what feels like magic with
the use of these simple steps.
Monica Wofford, CSP is a keynote speaker, author, and leadership development advisor. Through her firm, Contagious Companies, she and her team train managers who’ve been promoted, but not prepared. To learn more, go to ContagiousCompanies.com orMonicaWofford.com
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