Are you wondering if you currently have the right people on your team? Do you need to fill a gap or plan to expand your team in the future? What best practices can you adopt to ensure you have created a working environment that attracts the right people?
As a manager, you have the responsibility to deliver on the needs of your company. You also have an opportunity to bring out the best in others and maintain healthy relationships with those you work with.
Here are some considerations when building and maintaining a high-performing team, including ways to foster and behaviors to model as a team lead/manager. These aren’t nice-to-haves for now, but critical for a healthy, everlasting team—regardless if members come and go.
Share A Vision
Understanding your company’s vision and your team’s purpose can inspire members to contribute to the overall vision while imagining their own future state. Once the vision is confirmed, agree on the behaviors needed to model the way and use it to share to upper management and out to your organization and partner clients.
Pro Tip: Make your vision visual by working with a visual practitioner to help facilitate the process or a graphics specialist to illustrate an agreed upon “picture” everyone can see themselves belonging to.
One of the fastest ways to determine shared team values is for individual team members to take time to determine their own values and share them with the group by using the team and company vision as criteria, distilling down the shared values and behaviors needed to live and work purposely.
Pro Tip: The optimal time to revisit the vision and values as a team is when a new member joins the team. It could be part of the onboarding process and forming/norming of a team. Models like Tuckman’s 5-Phase model help in ensuring teams grow in a way that serves everyone and delivers results.
Build and Maintain Trust
If the adage, “trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair,” then it’s essential that team members abide by agreed upon behavioral norms. Doing so ensures psychological safety and makes bringing out the best in others effortless.
Values-Based Decision Model
“It’s not hard to make decisions once you know what your values are.” — Roy E. Disney
Values-based decision making supports the vision and purpose of the team. It’s important to recognize that both tangible and intangible metrics play an important part when balancing the needs of the company and the desires of those who serve in it.
Shared Skills with a Growth and Abundance Mindset
While it is important for team members to have the necessary and relevant skills to fill current needs, rather than basing hiring decisions solely on skills, consider the whole person and how they may contribute to your team. Are they willing to share their skills to increase institutional knowledge and cross-train? And do they represent a complementary perspective that will round out the team’s diversity in thinking?
Respect Communication Styles
While you may not be able to hire someone based on a personality assessment, you can ask about their communication preferences during the hiring process. This allows you to learn more about how they may function on the team and whether they will contribute in an effective and equitable way. This decision may be tool-based, but also look for qualities that assert appropriate behaviors and empathy.
Practice Rhythms and Rituals
Consider the number of meetings or tagups a team needs in order to be productive. Too much structure can inhibit a team’s effectiveness whereas not enough communication may lower the status quo and lead to capacity loss. Whether you are forming, norming, storming or performing as in Tuckman’s 5-Phase model, holding consistent with rhythms and rituals is key. Regardless of what the team is going through, it’s vital to respect the havens that the team has established.
Ensuring you have the right people on your team takes time, dedication on your part, and a lot of trial and error. Don’t expect your team to deliver without understanding the needs, desires and motivations of each individual. It takes more than having the right skillsets to accomplish a goal. Honoring the whole person and what they enjoy doing best will help you get the most out of each team member and your team as a whole.
Heather Martinez was co-creator of the Visioneering team in Washington, D.C. This high-performing team of visual practitioners all shared a foundation of visual consulting skills and each person held specialized skills to round out the team. A start up inside of a start up, the Visioneers were named a lead practice in their formative year and were commonly the first to be leveraged in discovery meetings with clients. Some were embedded on client teams while others supported agency-wide change management efforts and strategic visioning retreats.