I’ve found that these five two-word combos out perform all others in building a stronger team. Besides “free food,” of course. And we must mean it! If we simply go through the motions in uttering these words, our team will see right through us. That’s good, because it helps separate the weeds from the garden, so to speak. I’ll go out on a limb right now and say that very few people want a weed as their supervisor. Weeds prevent growth of what we desire.
Great supervisors are hard to come by. Most likely because they’re responsible for everything that is generated by the team – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the budget. And because of things that take time away from the individuals on their team – the meetings, the travel, the meetings, and the budget.
I write this list to remind myself of what was shared with me by the teams I’ve been fortunate enough to have led and been a part of. Life is unpredictable and at times downright terrifying, like me ending the last sentence with a preposition. So, before you read my list below, let’s soak in the wise words of Danielle Cormack (AKA: Xena the Warrior Princess), “Be mindful, exercise kindness, to yourselves, to each other.”
These two words generate answers, options, new ideas, innovation, and fun. Let’s ask the individuals on our team and the team as a whole. We must provide space and ensure that the quieter ones on our team have an opportunity to speak. So much can be gained by involving our team in decisions – bonding, buy-in, and increased productivity, to name a few. I’ve experienced companies that continually ask their team members their thoughts, with some having crafted the name of their company, their company’s core values, their style of workstations, and how they’d like to celebrate the latest team victory.
These two words continue to carry significant meaning for individuals day-to-day. There are unique ways to utilize the power of these words, including a one-on-one coffee meeting, a handwritten note card, a fun phone video, and within a team meeting so all can hear. Oh, and yes, we can also simply say “thank you” in front of them at their workspace. Sometimes that is most appropriate.
These two words create and develop positive momentum for the individual and the team. Let’s use it carefully – too often it loses meaning and too few it doesn’t propel the team forward. Let’s recognize individuals for their good work, realize the small victories and the larger accomplishments and track milestones. Some milestones to consider may include annual programs that have made a difference, best-ever results when they occur, organizational victories in years in business, numbers of employees, and new location openings.
These two words help break the ice for new team members and assist in understanding the dynamics of our team. Let’s not get creepy, let’s just meet our individuals at a semi-personal level – what do they prefer? Coffee or tea, sunrise or night owl, week-long vacations or day trips. It may be fun to pose a question at the beginning of each week as a team bonding exercise. Showcase birthdays and work anniversaries, ideally monthly as a group.
These two words remind us to be servant leaders. Let’s get in there, make coffee, and power-out the tough stuff with our team. Sometimes supervisors will need to move from coach to quarterback and actually touch the ball to generate movement. Be careful not to do something that others can do, or need to learn to do. Show them, and then get out of their way - because if we’ve hired right, we can now let them grow by failure, adaptation, success, and improvements. Support their wishes by creating individualized work spaces and allowing work-from-home opportunities, if possible. Each organization is unique. Embrace it. I’m right there with you.
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