Use defining moments as an opportunity to redefine your teams’ role in delivering the best.
Many motivation mentors or scribblers still think managing a team is not the same thing as managing the individuals who make up a team. Here, let me choose to be refreshingly free from the polemic than being held up to obloquy and draw my carefully considered reflection to the understanding of Team. I find "Team" is a word batted around like a proverbial tennis ball. We have project teams, HR teams, marketing teams, cabinet ministers’ team, Central Bureau of Investigators’ team and the Indian cricket team. It's easy to get flooded under the mounds of doltish ideas that flood the market. For leadership lessons on how to get the best out of your team, a group organized to work together, leading the way is the only logical act outgrowing the redolent business sections of up-market bookstores!
When was the last time you regarded “honest appreciation” as a stimulus to a team-member motivation? When was the last time you felt your office culture called for complete panoply of “behavioral improvements”? When was the last time you dropped preaching the gospel of your own expertise and took the initiative instead to transport the same into your team? When was the last time you used “ice breakers” as a way to get everyone to open up, keep involved and feel good about who they work with? When was the last time you handled yourself using your head and the others, using your heart? Hence, today you ideally need to be a walking-journal yourself for best team-management practices. For 70% of people, as indicated by the Gallup Management Survey, don’t leave their jobs; they leave their managers.
Everywhere, and especially in India, the secret to establishing and maintaining team motivation for great performance is frustratingly discomfiting for many managers and leaders. Whether you're a small business owner or a top corporate manager, keeping your team animated, high-spirited and motivated is of top precedence to keep the auditor or the brass away from breathing down your neck. It's equally important to set your team to a rhythm of interminable verve and see each member there is happy, healthy, and vivacious. Few people are motivated only by cold facts, hard numbers, and raw data to put in their best. But let’s not forget, everyone also wants an articulate display of positive emotions in his everyday working life. Sure these numbers point out how your down-line is doing, but if you're looking to improve the level of performance and motivation you ought to let them know how the raw numbers can be encouraging. We focus too much on technical proficiency and controls and too little on character. Perhaps as a consequence, many have developed a tendency to downplay the importance of human factor in managing. Managers are not responsible for other people’s happiness, we say. The workplace isn’t a nursery school. We have got market share, growth and profits to cark about, and anyway, power is too useful and entertaining to dribble away on relationships – we have got our own nests to feather! But only those who understand that managing a team is not a series of mechanical tasks but a set of sensitive human interactions, can expect them to be brothers-in-arms perpetually alert to the interest of producing best results.
No wonder why “Motivate and trust” the neologisms for them, as also observed that many starchy top dogs of typically dominant hierarchical management call themselves “Mentors” to boot, without actually realizing the weight of the word or the bromidic gag that is. They are intransigent in outlook, so their “watchdog” psyche set up procedures that require their team of employees to get multiple approval signatures for decisions. Even with their insular views, they continue to demand the wonders from the bottom-line and sadly, end up wrestling to quash the obstinately repetitious paroxysm of their freedom-deficit-disorders! Like Brian Mills, a corporate culture strategist rightly deems that delivering on the promise made by the managers can set the teams’ morale northwards as one must remember a team is not a perishable resource to be consumed but a valuable community to be developed by fostering a healthy work environment full of cheers, else endures the incubus of performance expectation.
“Don't set out to be an interesting person; rather set out to be an interested person when you are communicating your vision to motivate your team to see what you see,” says Mahitosh Roy, an eminence in power & telecom corporate in India. He further added, “Even personal life management of the motivators (not always career management!) is an influential constituent to seeing the invisible even to do the impossible as only those who risk going too far can possibly discover how far one can go.” Perhaps, that’s why for great managers, effective hi-performance team building is indubitably a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity!
Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter the least. How do we encourage people to present their ideas within a team setting? We indeed need to allow people a voice and forum to use it without fear of reprisal. Empowering team members with an equal "voice" in meetings could be a progressive shift in establishing trust without pushing their creativity a million miles away. Every so often their creativity is dampened, as one of the reasons; by the draconian 'rules' they think they are enveloped by. If the very concept of rules is minaciously antithetical to creativity and candor, yet why should we let it constringe them and impede their free-thinking passage to see them doing the same thing perfunctorily? Then be sure if you are talking about best results or the best bargain!
Blame it on the Victorians or industrial revolution; we live our lives with change. A renewing aberration in communication exemplar in both verbal and non-verbal links from the commonplace ones is very useful here. As often seen, fear crushes your team's communication and performance. Let’s think of thoughtful techniques to encourage them to open up, converse and communicate realizing the importance of vital, one-on-one relationships with their managers at the earliest stage possible with cross-functional “Points-of-Contact” cooperation aiming to eliminate the layers of imposing seniority between them and their leaders to solve problems, which is an essential step to produce wonderful results outside even maximizing customer delight. However, employees want regular updates on the progress of the business and their personal performance as nothing stresses people out more than not knowing what’s going on. The use of one-on-one and group meetings keep your team apprised of changes, updates, feedbacks, next plan of action etc. It is a crime on the part of a manager if he has no more than just a nodding acquaintance with his team member not knowing what his strengths are or his birthday, however big the size is. As ice-breakers, getting everyone involved in something quirky and fun like peppy recreations, dinner outing, birthday celebration, inter-office sports or cultural competition or having a dance off can be an imaginative way to liquidate tension and increase friendly esprit. Make the most of it to encourage your team to converse in comfort. Golf outings, spa days, or river-rafting vacations may be out for the time being as motivators but that doesn’t mean the celebration of individual and team performance will be scotched until Wall Street regains primacy.
Additionally, provide positive reinforcement by issuing awards and use the corporate newsletter to highlight specific team achievements. Thank-you cards, congratulatory notes, phone calls and commendatory emails can be sensitive as their “comfort perks” in taking your team from ordinary to unstoppable. I also believe in applying reframing process to build the character of a team that is expected to deliver at its best. Therefore, take initiatives to ensure your team members are willing to deal with conflict or scurrilous panic-spreading gossips in a direct, transparent and thoughtful way; not holding things in, not lashing out to make everything look seamy, and never using strife for personal gain. If your communication opportunity is left to chance, miscommunication becomes the norm!
Stories are another way to keep a team charged. They simply communicate knowledge and the ideas that translate emotions, feelings and promote motivation on the listener’s part more effectively than some humdrum and often irksome PowerPoint presentation. Chet Holmes, often called "America's greatest business growth expert," points out the practice of building and training a team around a “Core Story” makes it sing in harmony.
Colonial shadows still darken race issues and many can’t shrug it off. That doesn’t occasion a result-assuring team building by stealth! Instead, be the first one to get the oyster leaving the shell for the oaf who thinks only one man in a thousand is a leader of men; the other 999 follow women. Yet no harm there is, Indira Nooyi also leads a Fortune 50 global brand!