What’s worst than winning a juicy piece of work? Realising you don’t have a team of people who you can reliably delegate down to and trust that they will deliver to the required standard in the time you have been allocated… So, what can you do to build that team around you? In this blog post, we explore seven tips to build up a team that you can rely on and trust.
1. Treat your team as if they are your client, not the other way around
I don’t know about you, but there have been times when the team leader of the team I am in really doesn’t seem to care two hoots about the team. They turn up late to meetings, interrupt other people when they are talking and frankly don’t make themselves very popular. Of course, there are times when you need to put some distance between you and your team. However, ultimately having a team that you can rely on and trust comes down to the quality of the relationships you have built in the team. If you treat your team as if they are your client, rather than the other way around then you will go quite some way to creating a strong team around you.
2. Don’t dodge the difficult conversations
Your role is to deliver a piece of work to your client at UNDER the budget you have quoted to them. If your team member mucks up so rework is required or WIP needs to be written off, then you have a responsibility to have that conversation with them. They need to understand the impact of their actions and put in place steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Of course, this sort of conversation needs to happen in private and in a way that is supportive. If you dodge this conversation, then your team members won’t realise what level of performance is required from them in future. You may find our guide to assertive behaviour and assertiveness self assessment useful if you are struggling with difficult conversations.
3. Delegate the appropriate level of responsibility but not accountability
At the end of the day, the buck stops with you. If your team doesn’t perform, it will be you having the conversations with partners and the client. However, you need to make sure that you delegate the appropriate level of responsibility. If someone is new and untested then you will need to make sure they check-in with you more than an experienced team member. You need to judge the amount of support each team member will need from you and the team to achieve their task list. Get each of your team members to update you daily (or weekly) on the progress they are making with the tasks you have allocated them.
4. Spend time 1:2:1 with each team member
This may not always be possible to do when you are a rapidly formed team with a short-term brief. However, you will get the most out of your team members if you give them the gift of your time. In an environment where everyone is watching the clock and recording where their time is spent, people really relish an opportunity to spend time with more senior members of the team. When you are having this 1:2:1 (and make sure it is a recurring event) find out more about them, i.e. what makes them tick, what they want to achieve in this role, what they like doing outside of work, what you can do to help them advance their career, how they are right now?
5. Provide direction and a framework to work towards
All of your team members will operate and work differently. However, your role as a team leader is to be explicit about what you want and need from them, and by when. If you can, allow them the freedom to choose the ‘how’ they get things done (although of course, specific parameters still need to be met).
6. Show your human side
Like you, I’ve worked for many people in my career. For the ones that I have respected the most, I have worked the hardest. So, what has gained my respect? It’s not the professional accolades they have amassed – but whether I can relate to them as a person. Your team needs to feel an emotional connection to you. Be real with them – if you are having a bad day, let them know. If you are having a good day, also let them know. There is nothing worse than a team sensing you are in a bad mood and wondering who or what caused it!
7. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Good communication underpins every great team. Make sure you have regular updates scheduled in your diary with the team. These don’t need to last long; a 5-minute daily team catch up via a conference call can often work better than a 2 hours drawn-out affair. (Particularly if your team members reside in different locations) Have a standard team agenda and stick to it. You may find our FREE tips for briefing a team and running a meeting useful, to get your communication right with your team.