Wearing the Same Shirt Doesn’t Make a Winning Team by Marcia Zidle

Teams, teams, teams. Whether you love-em or loathe-em, you’ll have to learn to live, not only with them, but within them. Your success as a leader will depend on it.

So What’s Teamwork All About?
Here are five strategies for building and nurturing a winning team on the football field and in the workplace.

1. Manage by adultery. 
It’s a term coined by Chaparrel Steel to describe its management philosophy of treating workers like adults instead of children. People are hired, not to do mindless jobs, but to put their brains to work.  Management’s job is to give the team a mission, see that theyhave the necessary resources and provide feedback and encouragement. Then turn them loose to be creative problem solvers.

2. Hire people who care. 
When evaluating prospective employees, a major airline brings all job candidates together in a room and asks each person to make a presentation. Everybody thinks that the company officials are evaluating the person making the presentation. But in reality, the company is evaluating the candidates in the audience to see who are attentive and supportive as others present. It is a strong signal that these people have the ability to care about fellow employees.

3. Make sure there is a scoreboard. 
One critical difference between a group and a team is that a team knows what constitutes a win. Players in sports know instantly where their team stands and whether they are winning or losing. This information then affects how they are going to play the rest of the game. But in most businesses, employees may work for weeks and months and not know if they are winning, losing, or just hanging in there. Like sports teams, business teams should also have scoreboards. Then team members would have some idea how close they are to a win and what they need to do to make it happen.

4. Don’t take on your team’s monkeys or problems.
If the leader keeps running in and lifting the weights for his team, they are never going to build any of their own muscle. The trap in becoming a “hero leader” is that every time you pull a rabbit out of a hat, you generate more dependency from your team. Important:  Astute leaders welcome their employees to discuss problems and solutions, but never let them leave their problems with the leader.

5. Set up your team to win, not lose.
If your team is faced with multiple tasks or problems, don’t always tackle the worst ones first. Conventional wisdom says prioritize your tasks and then begin tackling your most important problems, solve them and then move on to smaller ones. This approach ignores the fact that the biggest problem is usually the hardest to tackle. Therefore, if not prepared mentally, team members are more likely to fail, become demoralized and give up. This is not permission for all of us procrastinators to put aside our tough assignment. Rather, it allows us to gain the confidence to first experience success on a smaller level before going for “the big one.”

Management Success Tip:

Paul “Bear” Bryant, the legendary football coach at the University of Alabama, said winning team members need to know the following: “Tell me what you expect of me – Give me an opportunity to perform- Let me know how I’m doing -Give me guidance where I need it -Reward me according to my contributions.” I couldn’t have said it better than Bear Bryant.

Do you want more productive and effective teams? 

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