Monday, 16 August 2010

How to Build Work Teams

How to build confident work teams

Getting the most from your work isn't just about you. Typically we work in teams and if the dynamics are not right then everything suffers.

There are many pathways to building confident work teams.

Whether you are working with a new team, or an established already well-functioning team, the guidelines included in this article can support you in building an even stronger, focused, more cohesive team.

Building confident, cohesive, well-functioning teams is an ongoing focus for managers.

Although often managers “inherit” the teams with which they work, rather than start them from scratch, the same rules apply:

Know that teams go through various stages

Any change—be it to responsibilities, addition of staff, loss of staff, or new ways of operating—may mean that already established, well-functioning teams sometimes revert to a period, as when first formed, where roles, mission and process need to be revisited and re-clarified.

Action – Define your teams roles and responsibilities early on. Make sure you to take the lead in this.

Have a clear mission

Teams without a clear mission are like boats without a rudder.

The resulting feeling of aimlessness leads to lack of clarity and fuel for productivity. Expectations for individual responsibilities remain unclear if not linked to the bigger picture—or team role.

You may be surprised to find your team may not have a clear understanding of the guiding mission.

Action – Provide direction and purpose to the team. Say what your objectives are and where you want the team to go.

Have clear roles and hire for fit

Ensure your staff understands where how roles connect and may be interdependent.

Explore the handoffs and how current processes help or hinder their success.

Hire additions to staff whose values mirror those of your group (e.g. if teamwork is critical, hire those who flourish in team environments rather than those who prefer to work independently).

Clarify what they bring to the team and how they will contribute.

Establish your team-specific “groundrules”

These are the unwritten norms that guide how work gets done in your team.

Do you have an open door policy?

How are suggestions for improvements to be made? How does communication work amongst team members?

Action – Do this as soon as you can so people know what to expect and what your standards are.

Provide a vehicle for teambuilding

Whether at a fixed period during monthly staff meetings, or at annual retreats, allow some time for your team to bond and reconnect with one another as well as with you.

Listen for their concerns and frustrations, and to the extent possible, empower them to own solutions.

Action – As well as taking this on yourself delegate the “Teambuilding” responsibilities to some people in your time also. Like a “social secretary” for organising team night outs.

Lead your group

Effective teams have a clear leader, with a clear role.

Consistently communicate and play your part on the team.

Proactively address potential concerns and issues, and build a collaborative environment where every member’s strengths and talents are utilized and appreciated.

Action – You don’t need to start this, you should be doing this ALL of the time!

List down all of the things that you can do to make sure that this happens.

These are the pathways to building confident teams.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

True Calling

Your True Calling

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is often the question we get asked when we are still at school. Notice the semantics. It did not read “what do you want to do?” The notion being that we define ourselves by our work.

When they are younger most people have hopes and aspirations for their future working lives but it would appear that somewhere along the line it can go awry. The typical worker is estimated to labour away between 80,000 and 100,000 hours over the course of their lifetime. Research has suggested that 60 % of workers are unhappy with their work. Certainly a lot of people will identify with the feeling of dread come Monday morning when the working week starts again. In terms of productivity a high proportion of workers will ‘get through’ Monday by putting in less than a full working day and similarly come Friday unhappy workers will idle away their time doing the minimum, counting down the hours until they can escape the prison that has become work.

Many people have settled for something other than an emotionally fulfilling job and given up on their dreams and aspirations. There are lots of reasons for this:

  • Some people fall into certain career paths that don’t really fulfil them because traditional wisdom says it’s a good career but it is not really what they want deep down. Perhaps it is what their parents pushed them towards, or what their peers where aspired to that resulted in the wrong choices.
  • When we are starting out in our careers we don’t always know what a job or career path really involves. There can be a mismatch in terms of our values and that of a profession or organisation. For instance, being a lawyer or forensic psychologist can seem much more glamorous from the outside looking in.
  • Peoples values and hopes can change over time. What once fitted with our beliefs can no longer seem to hold true as we grow and develop through out our lives. Certainly life span psychology has shown that we are not static beings from the time we grow up. Rather we are continuously developing and growing.

Whatever the reasons, it is clear that many people are now realising that they can radically improve their lot by re-evaluating their life purpose, values and interests and seeing how high they can reach if they build on what they have by setting new goals.

Of course this is all easy to say. Procrastination and the fog that surrounds knowing what really turns us on and can realistically earn us a living usually get in the way unless have a little help. Entering into a coaching relationship with a career coach is the answer for some people. Others want to dip their toe into the water or just need the tools to do it for themselves.

Knowing what will fulfil us emotionally is just part of the equation in terms of having a happy working life. Marketing yourself; deploying the secrets of a stunning resume and interview tactics that ‘get the job’ are the next steps.

To find out more about my approach to coaching please visit