After all, your employees are adults. You can’t make them do anything they don’t want to do, right?
That is largely true. If employees check out, you can’t force them to take the job seriously. You can’t make them commit to team success. You can establish consequences. You can even threaten to fire them. But when it boils down to it, employees have to want to succeed. They have to put the interests of the team first. They have to want to help the team meet its goals.
So the question becomes not “How do I make my team succeed?” but rather “How do I encourage my team to WANT to succeed?” It starts with these six steps.
Expect employees to work as a team
Don’t expect people to come together as effective teams if you haven’t set a clear and definitive expectation of teamwork. It may seem obvious to you, but if you want great teams, start by making your expectations clear. Then make sure you are encouraging teamwork through your conversations, feedback, recognition and rewards systems and more. Expectations are great, but your daily actions will show how important teamwork is to you and your organization.
Commit to team success and grow the commitment of others
The best teams are committed to their success and to each other. Are you committed to both of those things? As the leader of a team, you are also part of the team too. Yes your role is different, but are you all in for the team? If you aren’t, how can you expect them to be? While being committed yourself is important, you must recognize the importance of this commitment and engagement and encourage it in others as well. This may require conversations, coaching and even conflict resolution, but doing the things that help employees become more committed to the work and one another will pay huge dividends in results.
Create a team vision but allow employees to personalize it
A team can be committed and “get along” and do great work, but if they aren’t moving in a direction that is the desired direction for overall organizational success, they are less effective than they could be. Whether you set the goals or involve them in setting them, no team can succeed without them. Goals alone aren’t enough however. We must help people connect their personal work to the goals of the team and the vision of the organization. Our role as leaders is to help make that happen.
Focus on relationships and encourage others to do the same
Often leaders mistakenly think that if people get to know one another, they will get along better and most, if not all, team problems will disappear. That is short sighted and incomplete. Relationships among team members matter and will aid in team development and success. So if you want highly successful teams, be a relationship builder and allow time and space for team members to build relationships, while they accomplish tasks.
Let your team grow independent of you
Your team will need you, and you must make time for and invest time in employees. However, you must also leave them alone. Don’t micromanage them. People grow and learn with help, but you can’t do things for them. Give them space and opportunity to try things on their own, and be patient when they fail. Finding this balance may be a challenge, but remember that as they learn and grow, they’re only making the team stronger.
Be supportive and encourage team members to support one another
Be supportive both of the team as a whole, but also of the individuals on the team. Remember that a team is made up of individuals, and when you support them, you are building their confidence and creating positive attitudes. Building confidence and positivity will improve individual (and team) results, so it is important that you not only encourage others, but also that you help people do the same for one another. Ongoing encouragement will grow your team’s results as fast as almost any other thing, and it starts with you.
Now, pick something on this list and get started. In fact, I recommend you start with the thing you feel least comfortable with; then make a plan to integrate all these actions into your ongoing team leadership approach. You will create tremendous team and individual results.