Does your team inspire a following?

Service, innovative programs, community, comfort, ease…the reasons why people engage with your organization vary from person to person. So how do you keep up?

Creating products, services and ultimately a culture that inspire people to engage with your organization takes effort and perseverance.  How do you keep building, serving and facilitating in ways that inspire people to return to your organization?

This type of sustained effort requires teams that get it. You need teams that understand your organization’s purpose, what you are striving to achieve and who you are trying to serve. It requires people who are motivated and enthusiastic about building your success.

Motivated, engaged and enthusiastic teams don’t just happen. The good teams you’ve been a part of, the ones where people share their honest perspectives and “crazy” ideas, disagree respectfully, support each other, and genuinely collaborate. Those teams were fostered.

With the hectic pace of association life we can be tempted to invite people to a conference room or a conference call or assign them a desk in a “collaboratively designed” space and expect teamwork to happen. This rarely results in engaged and successful teams.

If you want a team that: strives to create the best opportunities and resources, provides stellar service and genuinely cares for your members you need to invest in building your team.

As Hank Fortener explains “the people are the work” (How to Build Teams That Won’t Fail Each Other).  Investing time and energy in building your team will reap benefits for you, your team and your organization.

So how do you start or build up your current efforts? Here are a few key things to consider.

Engage with your team
There is a lot of talk about engaged employees. But strong teams also require engaged leaders. Your people need to see you. They need to hear from you, they need to know that you care and understand, they need to know that you get it.

A simple way to build engagement is asking questions that encourage staff to share their ideas, perspectives and concerns with you.
• How do you think we could …?
• What do you need to make this a success?
• Why is this important to you?

Stephen Covey said it best, “listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.”  Listen to what people are telling you. Be open to what they are saying. Ask questions. Listen to what is going on around you – in your organization, in your member’s organizations in the broader community. Make time to listen and take in what is being said and not said.

To focus your attention on listening, I recommend keeping a list of questions in your notebook or electronic device that you can pose to build discussions.
• Why do you think this did or did not work the way we expected?
• What do you think we could do to make ___ better?
• What might slow down our efforts?

Communicate with your team
Communication is a tool for building understanding and engagement – yours and your teams. Good communication requires asking questions, listening and ensuring that your people understand the message you are trying to share. As the Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “we have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Good communication is a form of engagement.

Try asking simple questions to gauge your team’s comfort, interest and understanding • How could we improve this plan/idea?
• If you were leading the group, what two things would you do next?
• Can you help me to understand…(your concern, the challenge, the opportunity, etc)?

Good teams require engagement yours and your colleagues. Show that you care and your colleagues will be more likely to invest their time and effort.

Here are a few resources to help you develop your team focus.
HBR Blog: Three Ways To Encourage Smarter Teamwork

Talking Point: Four Ways To Demonstrate Genuine Care

Four Ways to Instill and Promote Transparency at Work

The Question Project

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