For the last several years, businesses have spent tremendous energy and resources on efficiency. Tightening up processes, removing actions lacking returns, and even combining responsibilities into fewer roles. The big question is what to do in an always-changing market where we are overloaded, and often have more than our job – specifically, the people looking to us for guidance.
In fact, we must look beyond our own and our team’s tasks. The starting point: taking responsibility for our actions. Articulating our role is easier when viewing from the standpoint of how the organization benefits from what we do. We’re more than just a “director.” We are a director who researches, or develops connections, or builds awareness, or keeps track of the money. We take and go further with that area of expertise. Using observation, listening, and communication skills strengthens both what we bring to the table and our ability to lead by example as the head of the team. In turn, strong leadership skills will foster collaboration, commitment and morale among workers … in other words, team building!
Business Success Includes More Than Efficiency. It Starts with Team Building … Which Starts with YOU!
Anyone can look around. Observation takes a bit of patience and diligence, as well as setting our own ego aside – noticing something for what it is (not what we think it is). There is a sense of getting-things-done when we jump in and take on something which plainly requires attention.
A pause. A wait. To decide what we see. And to look closer to determine if what we see is the whole story. Observation is a type of awareness providing information we can use for forming questions, to test if what we’re perceiving is what is truly happening.
How we use words matters. The more we interact with the same people, the more we are able to distinguish the nuances hidden in what they don’t verbalize. It’s another way, in addition to individual reactions, that we employ to understand what’s going on.
Depending on our own personality, we may automatically jump in with suggestions or solutions. Doing so detracts from listening. It also changes the dynamic between us and others. We want our people to know we see, understand, and get what they feel. That builds connections (and trust).
Observing and listening are one side of communication. Another side is how we talk, share, and interact with our team. We want to repeat, in our own words, what someone says to show comprehension – and we also want to be honest. While we can sugarcoat something, or downplay a problem … that’s us avoiding the issue.
Expressing what we like in our team is another important facet of communicating. What our people do well – as well as what they need to improve – isn’t a once-a-year conversation. It’s ongoing, shaping and developing their personal awareness and expectations. When open and upfront, we create lasting change. Communication skills include a bit of occasional refereeing; preferably peaceful conflict resolution or an understanding that the issue is something on which to agree to disagree.
Success is About the Team.
With these three skills (i.e. observe, listen, communicate) one can hone the ability to read between the lines – what’s not being said or done. The presence given (or not) to the team for which you are responsible ties directly to your output. And, while you may have some say about both who stays on and who joins the team – you are part of a cross-functional group aiming to place the person right for an opening right now.
The strengths and weaknesses of each person on your team will tell you where there are gaps in skills and what the realities are with regards to to reaching departmental goals. The ability to assess an individual’s work output provides useful information. Watching also uncovers when people are at their highest energy and when they are the most focused, which is key to finding the rhythm of the team.
How the team speaks – the way they use words tell a lot. Levels of frustration or overwhelming perceptions and satisfaction or joy come through. Listening assists in assessing what questions to ask and when to ask them. Your ability to set aside any inkling, filter, and assumptions makes useful the quality of what you learn by listening.
When and how you communicate with your team provides information too. Is work completed timely or late? Are people staying late to finish every single project? Do you show up authoritative, involved, over-involved? How do they feel about the work they do? Is the work error-filled, requiring revisions? Do they solve problems on their own? Answers to questions such as these are clues to how you view your team and how they view you.
Articulate the Need. Communicate it Clearly.
Using the skills of observation, listening, and communication allow us to stay on top of the intangible ROI (return on investment) potential of our department.
When adding or replacing a team member, we are filling more than a position. We are adding skills and personality and experience to the team. The three skills on which this article focuses makes it easier to know what’s missing, what’s needed, and what will propel the team forward.
Knowing what the team needs makes all the difference when communicating it with your counterpart in human resources. The recruiters the organization works with (internally or externally) will use what you give them to seek out the person who will fit best. When you can articulate what the team needs, and combine that with the description – this represents the situation in which the recruiter can offer the best, most targeted help.
Five To-Dos to Build Our Team with The Help of a Recruiter.
- Position description. What the role and tasks are, including necessary technical skills. Boring? Perhaps, but it’s important. Describe (at least internally) the definitions of specific terminology – self-starter, startup mentality, and other phrases mean different things at different organizations.
- Soft skills sought. These are the traits that strengthen the team’s weaknesses. If we want something specific, describing what the attribute looks like to us ensures that the recruiter is looking for it too.
- How we train/onboard new hires. Sure, there is the regular paperwork process. But what happens when that brand-new employee shows up for their very first day on the job? The method surrounding how we introduce, train, and integrate a new person into our team will help the recruiter answer questions – AND set an expectation for when a person begins working.
- Ask what would help them find THE best person. Be open to hearing what the recruiter wants to know; the information will enable their best work in our stead. Answering questions clarifies search parameters for both parties.
- Understand their process. And, where exactly we fit in: does the recruiter want us to be involved? If so, to what extent and ends? Once clarified, do just as requested. Let the recruiter work their magic.
Know how the values and mission fit the role. Tell the recruiter what using the values in the day to day activities of the position looks like. Add to the description the functional impact of how the position allows the product to be created, sold, and delivered to solve a problem.
“But, I Don’t Have Time…”
…is a common response I hear when working with business leaders who know something isn’t working, but don’t yet realize what. Time is the same for all of us. What we do with each of those moments determines how we add value and get results. John Wooden says it best:
“If you don’t have time to do it right now, when will you have time to do it over?”
We do have time. We choose how to spend it. When finding areas requiring energy we prioritize what we are doing. So really, it’s not a lack of time. It is a lack of priority. Our teams benefit when we prioritize the business unit – which is more than results and numbers, because the unit includes our people.
The more time we spend on our team means the more amplified our results will become. It’s up to us to help employees achieve their personal and professional goals (because personal fulfillment and a sense of contribution are intertwined).
Team building is an ongoing process in business, whether involving a new hire or further training and development of existing workers.
Always keep the three ways to promote team building top-of-mind: observe – listen – communicate.
And don’t hesitate to find external help if necessary, in the form of a recruiter, in adding to your team. These mindsets represent your strength, your advantage.
Why? Because boosting outcomes starts with knowing what what one has. This aspect is closely followed by knowing your team’s weak spots and how that affects the team’s ability to get the job done on time, and done correctly.
At Red Direction, the abovementioned concepts are woven into the mix with each person, on every task. Purposeful, responsive team building strengthens my crew’s ability to come together and work with creative tenacity on project and problem-solving alike.
Still feel like you need a bit of help, some business direction on this topic? Then ACT to Plan by contacting me for a 30-Minute Unstuck Quick Consult . We’ll discuss your aims, where you are and where you should be to move deliberately toward your team building goals!