I taught an introductory class in Project Management last month and we got into discussion about motivating team members. I mentioned that I take every opportunity I have to recognize people for their work. I was surprised at the reaction of the class. They were evenly split into two camps. Half agreed with me. The other half thought people should be rewarded only when they do something extraordinary and should not be recognized for just doing their job. There are obviously merits to both approaches. What are your thoughts?
My daughter loves to dance and because of this I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Michael Flatley‘s Lord of the Dance. We actually went to see Riverdance a few years ago when it was in town, although Michael Flatley was retired by then. The dancing is spectacular. Precise. Inspiring. Rythmic. I began to wonder if we could learn anything from these spectacular shows when it comes to promoting project excellence.
Have you ever led a team that just didn’t want to be led? You know the situation… you inherited a team that has several problem children on it and not everyone will follow your lead. Getting things done is difficult, and getting them to give you status updates is just as hard. If you’re lucky, they’re at least competent, but in a worst case scenario you have, 1) Individuals on the team who think they know what they’re doing, but don’t, 2) Lack of cooperation amongst team members and 3) an unwillingness to follow you. So… what do you do?
A student in class the other night asked how to go about developing your team. Now, this may come as a shock to some of you, but the best way to develop your dream team, is to let go the non-performers. Ouch.
People will develop at their own pace. Odds are that not everyone on your team is ready to become a high performer. You have three choices:
Make a project of the non-performers
Establish reasonable expectations and let those go who don’t meet them
Your Dream Team will evolve as you get high performers on your team. The wake up call…
Not everyone on your team is a high performer!
Leadership takes guts. Do the right thing by establishing high standards and holding people to them. Don’t be a task master though. Be reasonable. So, set the standard, monitor people’s progress towards it and let those go who don’t want to get on board.
I went to Google’s Insights for Search to see what trends people were searching on, and Team Building was amongst the top of the list in the HR/Business Category. I pondered what value I could bring to those that are searching and then it hit me. People are looking for tips and tricks on team buidling, but don’t realize that they have the silver bullet. THE answer. The answer to team building…. is you.
When you get right down to it, high performing teams are a direct reflection of the leader of the team. Poor performing team = Poor leadership. High Performing Team = Good leadership.
During the leadership classes I teach, I often start off showing the class a gift wrapped box and tell them that the secret, “The Silver Bullet”, to building good teams is in it. I shake the box and let them hear that there is definitely something in it and ask them to guess what it is. I always expect the class to guess the contents, but usually end up having to open the box and reveal its contents. A mirror. Yes, look in the mirror and you will see the secret to building good teams. It is you… the leader. No excuses. No exceptions.
So, you want to go about team building. Before you can build your team, you must work on yourself. What have you learned, or what have you done lately, to improve your leadership skills?
Every leader is concerned with building their team. For some of you, it may be a small team of 3-4 people, for others it may mean hundreds or perhaps even thousands. Regardless of the size of your team, every leader should ask themselves, “what do I want out of my team?”
As you go about building your team, you should ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish with your team. Is it to operate for a short period of time together to get a project completed? Or perhaps it is to build a team that will be together for years? How you approach leading your teams will vary greatly, depending on what you want out of it.
One of the great mistakes many managers and project managers make is to assume that they can use the same leadership style to lead any team. I have seen too many rookie project managers try to manage every team the same way, usually by forcing process and procedures upon them. In a bureaucratic or mission culture this may be acceptable but in an entrepreneurial or clan culture, this can be the start of a very rocky relationship with a team.
Know what you want from your team. Performance, longevity, teamwork, independent thinking, getting along? What’s important to you and your organization? By defining this, it will make building and leading your teams much easier.