By Nathalie Heywood.

Building a team is one of the biggest challenges for a manager. As managers, our first responsibility is to make sure work gets done. Getting the work done requires getting the best people and then getting the best out of them. To create the “Great Team” we need to be clear about our goals and expectations; we need to understand ourselves and our leadership style; then we can create a work environment that is in line with our goals, and make sure we have the right employees doing the right job.

The first step to building a great team is to identify your goals as it relates to the company. Your goals are a combination of the team’s purpose, responsibilities, structure, culture, and corporate values. Once you know what needs to be accomplished, you’ve got to figure out how to get it done based on your leadership style. For example, if you are charismatic whirlwind that people just like, chances are you need very organized people on your team. If you are an organized and detail-oriented individual, you probably need a few big-idea people on your team.

Next step is assessing the strengths of your team. It’s easy to identify the team members with standout strengths and passion for their work daily. The employees that are always improving their approach to their job and continually looking for new ideas to improve on the work, and because of their commitment, end up pushing you to do better – those employees are your “A-Game” players. The employees that you know are good, but you haven’t figured out what to do with are your “B-Game” players. All others you are going to need to decide if they can become A- or B-Game players.

Starting with the Others, the simplest way to figure that out if they belong on the team is to use the standard “three-strike method.” Step 1, discuss areas of strength and improvement, set expectations and a time frame. Thirty days is usually enough. Step 2, meet to review the results. If they have changed behaviors – then you have a great team player. If not, give them one more chance, and 30 days to re-evaluate expectations. At the end of 60 days, you both know whether it’s a partnership or time to say goodbye.

Now let’s focus on the B Team. They are skilled, which means the main task is to match the goals, the structure, and their skill. It’s important to review expectations with them. You will find most of the time they just misunderstood what was required to be successful and need clear feedback in order to adapt to the team dynamic.

For the A Team, it’s important not to take them for granted, remember to validate their contribution, and recognize they make the team unique.

Once you have assembled a great team it becomes a matter of keeping them. There are simple things you can do every day like acknowledging above and beyond performances. Pass on feedback from clients when things go well. When things aren’t working, address it informally – don’t escalate if you don’t have too. Give thanks publically.

And for yourself, unless otherwise needed, set aside two hours a month to review your team. Anything noteworthy, I jot down in my daily calendar for review once a month. The point is to have an accurate record, to keep it simple, and be effective.

A thoughtful comment: I’ve been lucky to work with amazing people and some of them I had to lay-off or fire as a result of our business changing or because they had changed. We still remain friends because we communicated regularly when things worked and didn’t work. When there is clear communication, there are no surprises and limited upset.

Nathalie Heywood, Update Graphics an Update Inc Company

NHeywood@updategraphics.com

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