Where Is Your Team Spirit?

With a new team, morale takes time to develop. Two key factors influence the growth of team spirit, shared experiences and communication. If you want to build team pride or maintain the momentum  you have, these are the areas in which to focus.

1. Shared Experiences. Shared experiences is what brings people together. There are many types of shared team experiences: challenges, creative, discovery, learning, entertaining, winning, and losing. A workplace team is also strengthened through different type of events. As a leader, how can you create shared experiences that will strengthen your team? Don’t wait for these to happen by accident. Plan them and follow through. Teams that lack team pride are easily spotted because they tend to work in silos unaware of how collaboration could increase their results.

2. Communication. Communication is a process. Being an effective communicator is one of the most important skills that will help your team. Without communication, you have no team. Yet many leaders fail to communicate adequately. To build a capable team you must communicate effectively to every team member. Not all people receive a message the same way. A message can be delivered through the written word, through spoken words, through visual messages. Some people only need to hear a message one time, other may require hearing it multiple times before they understand its importance. As a leader, you must discover how to communicate to your team members. It is not easy. It takes effort and practice.

What can you commit to this week that will improve your team’s communication, or create a shared experience?

Does Your Team Have an Edge?

John Maxwell has said, “The difference between two equally talented teams is leadership.” Does your team leadership provide the edge your team needs? A successful team needs to put in the work, and it also needs talent and tools. But without leadership, its achievements are limited.

What does great leadership look like for a team? Leaders help develop the talents their team possesses. Leaders enable quick learning, and effectively utilizes knowledge from both wins and losses. Team members are empowered, and develop a sense of responsibility for the results.

I have been on teams where I have had to provide the leadership foundation. I have also been on teams that struggled with a lack of leadership. But what I find interesting is that as a member of a great team, you sometimes don’t recognize fully the contribution of the leader. Leadership in some environments can be subtle, but yet required.

Leadership is simply the ability to influence the outcome. Learn to build positive influence in all types of environments and you will give your team an edge.

If you are the leader of a team, are you providing the right environment to give your team the edge? What will you do differently starting this week to advance your team?

Strategy or Tactic?

Is it possible to confuse strategy and tactics? Yes! I have encountered it numerous times in my career. Both strategy and tactics lead to the achievement of a goal, but they are different. Let’s look at an example.

Strategy: Become a world class manufacturing facility through reducing waste and developing the skills of the workforce.

Tactic: Implement lean tools to achieve the strategy.

Tactics need to shift to fit the situation, but the strategy is the overriding guide. On the surface this appears simple, but in practice is sometimes overlooked. In lean manufacturing, some groups may be so enamored with learning a lean tool that they believe implementation of the tool is the strategy. In some cases, they may even believe copying the tool exactly as they learned it is the only solution.

The lesson I learned from my Toyota trainer is that we should never copy a tool. We must first think, then learn, then implement a solution that fits our situation. Never copy without understanding. His favorite question was, “What is the purpose?”

Tactics change and shift depending on many factors. Strategy should be an anchor for the team. A vision that will keep people linked to a goal as they face their daily challenges.

Where have you become too attached to a tactic and need to revisit your strategy? Is your strategy driving your tactics or the reverse?

Time to Move On?

I recently observed a situation where a person was promoted into a new role, but was struggling because they were stuck in their old role. Not that they needed to fulfill their old role, but because they didn’t want to give it up.

I have had many working assignments over my career, each one presented new challenges, and opportunities. Some of my success has come from determining the skills I needed at the particular moment and focusing on being better at them.

I started my career in an assignment writing software even though my degree was Industrial Engineering. I eventually moved to an Industrial Engineering role, and I took my software development skills with me. However, within a year, those skills were no longer relevant to my success. I had to learn new skills.

That pattern repeated itself over the next 30 years. I learned skills, moved, adapted, and repeated. The adaptation is what can be difficult if you are not aware of the need to adapt.

When you transitioned into your current role, what skills became more important? What skills became less important? Have you adapted? Are you continuing your learning?

We build experience and skills over a life time. You don’t have to give up what you learned to move to a new role, but you probably will benefit from shifting your focus to the new skills needed for success.