Managing people comes with many different tasks. Team building being one of them! Whether you take over a team or create one from scratch, there’s always the task of making sure everyone works well together. With the right atmosphere, people are simply more willing to work together, as long as they’re encouraged to do so!
For many companies/organizations, it is necessary to build good teams for the business to run well. For some, a few rather, people can work as individuals and still manage to get results. Either way, it makes everything easier when everyone gets along in the workplace. People are more likely to provide better service to customers, smile more and feel some satisfaction if the work environment fosters teamwork. It also helps promote employee retention.
While it has all these advantages, team building is anything but simple. It is not something that can be done overnight. Nor is it something you can force people to do. So, how can A LEADER effectively build a team to encourage them to bond and develop working relationships that are positive? There are many things that you can do but my top 5 tips are as follows:
1. Set the example yourself.
We know that a leader who sets the tone is well respected. And it’s easy to follow them – so if the Team Leader has good relationships with their team players, it encourages the team members to get along amongst themselves too. The goal of having a good team is having team members who’re comfortable with their Leader as well as with each other.
NOTE TO A LEADER: DO NOT favour some team members and DO NOT become too friendly either.
2. Encourage relationships to work
Foster a team work style!
This could be introducing the buddy-system where either new team members are matched with existing team members to work with till they’re familiar with the team/work. OR where a number of team members work on 1 project with a main point of contact. Should the main point be unavailable, work continues with the other team members. This encourages relationships to form while work is also achieved.
3. Provide opportunities to get to know each other
... in a relaxed environment.
Team building exercises or fun activities like going out for meals encourage team members to talk in relaxed environments where the main topic isn’t work but rather their families and lives. Relationships form organically through this and people bond over areas of interest.
4. Get to know team members as individuals
Some might be introverts and you may not get to know the real them in a group setting. However, taking time to know each team member individually helps you understand who you’re working with making it easy for you to either allocate work OR match them with other members on tasks.
5. Encourage regular get-togethers
It could be to discuss goals, updates or learn new skills.
Either way, these encourage engagement across the team. Team meetings/briefings are important to ensure everyone is on the same page re team goals, achievements etc. When goals are established, make sure each team player is aware of them. And it’s vital you let them know you expect teamwork.
When team building is successful, there are many things that can happen. Not only will the business run better, but you can foster good qualities in individuals to come out. You can have a bond of trust and reliance with your team. Team building is an exceptional quality that you should encourage in some form or another with your team.
Are you a member of a Team? Do the above sound right? Would love to hear your thoughts whether you are building, or are part of a team.
Have you ever been in a room full of noise, everyone is contributing but no one seems to be listening? I have!
Have you ever heard couples complain about the inability of the other to communicate effectively, i.e LISTEN? And, have you heard some employees complain their superiors don’t “listen”?
Again, I have!
While it is so vital that we are able to communicate effectively, most of the time, we’re more enthusiastic about talking than we are about listening. That’s why most relationships breakdowns are a result of poor communication – people talk at each other not with/to each other! Unless someone hears what’s been said, including the subtext, the words have little value.
When we are actively listened to, we feel valued and are far more likely to engage in negotiation and compromise.
Listening in general is not about hearing the words. Watching facial expressions and body language often gives one a far more accurate story than the words that are being used.
So, how can one be an effective listener? Here’re my top 10 tips to becoming a more effective listener:
1. Make eye contact
If you’ve ever tried talking to someone who’s looking the other way or doing something, you’ll know how annoying it is! Put yourself on the other side, if you’re the one being talked with, why not make eye contact.
Now, this doesn’t mean looking fixedly at the other person. BUT being attentive!
2. Read the body language of the talker
Are they relaxed or anxious or angry? Extremes are easy to recognise but often the message is much more subtle which is why you need to make eye contact, and read the body language.
3. Mirror the talker’s body language
4. Show that you are listening
By nodding, making appropriate responses, you’re showing the person talking to you that they’ve got your attention thus encouraging them to continue.
5. Try not interrupt the talker
There’s nothing annoying like being interrupted in the middle of a sentence or point! When listening to someone, it’s always a good idea to wait till the person is finished or has taken a pause to say something. Sometimes interrupting causes the person to lose track or forget their point.
If you can hold your thoughts/points till they’re finished, you show respect. Otherwise it looks like you feel your points are more important or you don’t care what the other person has to say!
6. Ask relevant questions
If you’re not clear about something, ask for clarification BUT try not ask questions that take the speaker off course. An example of one of the irrelevant (and also annoying) questions is as follows:
Friend 1: Hey, you know I finally worked out how to get my kids to eat veggies. In fact, Lisa gave me a good idea and I tried it out.
Friend 2: Oh, how is Lisa doing? I haven’t caught up with her in ages!
(Shake my head)
While the speaker in this case may be happy to discuss the mutual friend, perhaps a question more relevant to the subject would’ve been better!
Asking questions can be difficult or send the wrong message to the talker. So here’re a few tips:
7. Use open ended questions
who, what, where, when
8. Watch out for the tone of your voice when you respond or ask questions
It’s easy to come across as judgemental, uninterested, plain ignorant, or as an interrogator.
9. Use empathy
It’s important to acknowledge difficulties. However, be careful not to fall into the trap of going into narratives from your own experience. In the spirit of sometimes showing empathy, people sometimes come across as being “all about me not you”.
Here’s a good example, say “I sense that you are finding this rather difficult” rather than, “Oh I know, it happened to me but mine was bigger, more difficult etc!”
10. Take a real interest
If you are simply going through the motions the lack of sincerity will be obvious to others. Leave your ego behind and concentrate on the other person
All this said, they say Communication is only completed when understanding is derived! So if you haven't understood the other person, communication isn't complete really.
Do you have problems with communication? Do you find it hard to listen OR do you feel people don't listen to you? Would love to hear your thoughts/comments on the strategies above.
Some say leaders are born leaders. Some say they’re created! Some say it starts with a desire to become one, then one works towards it.
Either way, leaders are people we respect, follow/believe their vision. They’re definitely different from managers, check out my other post Leadership OR Management – 8 Differences.
Regardless of how they come about, they are judged based on a number of things from how/if they inspire others, whether they drive people towards becoming better versions of themselves, whether they hold people accountable etc.
Below are the 9 main characteristics that I believe are of a strong/great leader.
1. Self-discipline / Control
We know people make mistakes and sometimes scandals happen BUT in history every great leader has had to become a master of self-discipline and willpower in order to stay focused on the big picture. A leader who’s not self-disciplined will not project a good image thus making it difficult for followers to believe or trust him.
A good leader follows through in everything they do. As challenging as it may be, they’re disciplined enough to be where they need to be, when they need to be, and whether they want to or not. By being strong in their resolve and resisting temptation to give up, they set an example for others to live up to.
3. Emotional response
Silencing one’s inner thoughts either comes naturally to some OR is an art that some great leaders practice. A great leader will silence their inner thoughts when they're not appropriate in order to set a positive example. They know how to respond to a situation despite their emotions.
4. Goal projection
Firstly, a leader who doesn’t have a goal or the drive to achieve it can’t lead others to attain their goals, PERIOD!
A good leader will be clear on goals and get their team/followers involved in the planning process and subsequently the implementation of the ideas. Sometimes people will make a plan then ask followers to implement – while this may work, involving followers and team members in the planning gives everyone a greater sense of ownership towards the end result.
5. Great communicator
If followers don't completely understand the deeper meaning in their work, they won't share the vision or work ethic. So, a great leader will communicate with their followers every step of the way, to ensure they're on the same wavelength and know what’s expected of them.
6. Praising and criticizing
The way a leader praises and criticizes others makes a difference especially in the followers. A great leader praises highly and criticizes constructively.
7. KNOW their people.
One cannot truly lead a group of people unless they truly understand their hopes, dreams, struggles, pains, and goals. All the good intentions in the world mean nothing unless one has a true sense of the people they’re working with.
A strong leader will:
8. KNOW when to lead and when to follow
They say as a leader you can’t expect someone to do what you can’t do. This applies to being a follower – a great leader will know when to lead and when to follow. It’s that understanding / knowing that you’re not always the smartest in the room, thus allowing experts in areas you’re not strong yourself to lead in other areas.
9. Decisiveness / Making the hard call
There are times when a leader has to bite the bullet and make some unpleasant decisions. Firing, demoting, restructuring, and holding people accountable for their actions can be very hard at times. A great leader will be aware of their responsibility to handle these matters and deal with integrity.
Actions speak louder than words. In order to gain the respect of others, a leader has to lead by example. They also must be disciplined themselves otherwise it’s difficult for followers to trust them.
Are you a leader or do you know a leader? Do the above sound right or are there other qualities you look for in a great leader? Please shares your thoughts/comments below. Would love to hear from you.
If you’ve been in the workforce for a bit, I’m sure you’ve come across someone you classified as a difficult work mate? A bully? OR perhaps that someone you haven’t gotten along well with?
Well, I have. A few years ago, due to a restructure, I happened to take on a position one of the ladies really wanted! I had only been with the organisation a few months, and hadn’t been working that long while on the other hand, she had been there a long time and more “qualified” in her opinion! When it was announced that I was filling the role, she went crazy! And that was my first experience of dealing with a “co-worker from hell”.
SO, if you have faced this situation, I’m sure you’ve dealt with it the best way you could or thought at the time. And if you were to face that situation again, I’m sure you’d do things differently.
From my experience, and casual discussions with people, here’re top 7 ways of dealing with that difficult colleague:
1. Consider the facts
For every situation, whether conflict or misunderstanding, you’ve heard people say “there’s always 2 sides to the story” right? SO when you feel like you’re being bullied or just dealing with a difficult co-worker, it’s important to consider the facts before you do anything.
Are you overreacting? Is it what they say or how they say it? Their actions or what they believe in?
It might pay to talk it through with a good friend / partner OR a colleague who may have been present some of the times too – just to look at all the facts. Brainstorm ideas or ways to address the situation. You’ll be surprised sometimes you may have acted in a way that would have resulted in the colleague’s actions or perhaps you could handle things better so much so that the actions will stop.
2. Address the situation
Believe you me, no situation gets better coz it’s left unaddressed. In fact, it can get worse.
IF at all possible, ADDRESS IT! You don’t want to dread going to work each day because of a co-worker otherwise it feels like high-school bullying.
Whining about it or reacting certain ways can result in you being labelled “difficult” or “unprofessional”. So it’s important to address this in a mature way.
WARNING: Do not address the difficult co-worker in public as this may look like confronting and could worsen the situation. Choose your moments/time/place.
3. Seek Assistance - Talk to your Manager / HR / external help
Depending on the structure of your organisation, and the co-worker you’re dealing with, you may want to discuss with your direct manager first before you escalate. If your manager is involved or has seen it but hasn’t acted, HR is your next step.
Some organisations no longer have HR departments but they may have external help like EAP where you can go for counselling or private discussions, perhaps seek help there.
4. Avoid or work on different projects
It might pay to work on different projects or avoid this colleague IF at all possible. Doing this won’t make you seem like a wimp, but merely avoiding conflict or drama. So find ways to avoid direct contact and minimize crossing paths.
5. Maintain Integrity / Stay Professional
It’s important to act professional at all times. Whether you run into the colleague in the corridor, or you have to work together OR talk to them about something, always act professional. Not only will other colleagues witness your efforts but sometimes that may force a change in your co-worker. Besides, it’s important to treat everyone with respect as you never know what they’re going through. Some may not even realize the impact their actions have on other people so if you kill them with kindness, you may trigger something.
Also, if you act unprofessional, it may seem like you’re high maintenance to your employer especially if you’re the one complaining about the situation (not the difficult colleague).
6. Change departments
Should you involve HR, sometimes they may be able to arrange for you to work in a different department. Some could even arrange a transfer to another city or secondment with another organisation. This should help, even if it’s temporary.
7. Move on i.e find another job
When all else has failed, and you feel you’ve given it your all, perhaps it’s time to move on. Start afresh! Some stay at the same employment because they need the money, or aren’t willing (or comfortable) to find new employment but it’s important to ask yourself, “what price am I willing to pay to stay?”
While you may be the victim, sometimes it’s important to consider your happiness, mental health and perhaps success.
Whichever way you choose to deal with the situation – take action sooner rather than later. Handling the situation before it turns really sour will ensure you deal with it while you still in control emotionally.
It’s also important to note, you may not agree to the problem or solution. The “toxic” co-worker may not view themselves as being difficult but feel their actions justifiable. As such, you should prepare yourself to learn from it all and come out a better person, perhaps understanding their point of view, even if you disagree. Difficult co-workers are everywhere. While we may not be able to eliminate them altogether, we can find ways to deal with them.
So just in case you’re wondering how I dealt with mine: Well, after shedding tears to my other half one evening, I went back the following day with a new attitude and my head held up high. I avoided (more like ignored) her for some time TILL SHE CHANGED. Thank goodness I wasn’t the only victim so she got tired of people shunning her.
Have you ever had a co-worker from hell? If so how did you deal with them? Thoughts or comments? Would love to hear from you whether you’ve been in the situation or not.
Many people claim to be Leaders! As a matter of fact, sometimes people assume leadership the moment they have staff to supervise or a group to lead. And sometimes Managers are treated or expected to be Leaders when in fact they don’t know how to lead but manage.
Confusing right?? Keep reading!
Although sometimes people treat the terms management and leadership as synonyms, the two should be distinguished. Take this for instance, there can be leaders of completely unorganised groups, right? On the other hand, there can be managers, as considered here, only where organised structures create roles, i.e place of employment.
Separating leadership from management has important advantages. It allows leadership to be singled out without considering a person’s qualifications, as compared to the general issues of management.
To clarify, leadership is certainly an important aspect of managing. The ability to lead effectively is one of the keys to being an effective manager. Also, undertaking the other essentials of managing, i.e doing the entire managerial job has an important bearing on ensuring that a manager will be an effective leader.
Does this describe you, your up-line or someone else on your mind? Here are some clues that might help you out.
Leaders have followers. The essence of leadership is followership. In other words, it is the willingness of other people to follow that makes a person a leader. We know that people tend to follow those whom they see as providing a means of achieving their own desires, wants and needs.
Managers have staff to supervise. In other words, managers have clearly defined roles and they exercise all the functions of their roles in order to combine human and material resources to achieve objectives. The key to doing this is a degree of discretion or authority to support their actions.
Leaders influence people. There is an element of influencing people so that they strive willingly and enthusiastically toward the achievement of goals. Ideally, people are encouraged to develop not only a willingness to work but also a willingness to work with zeal and confidence.
Managers basically give instructions or direction. They may or may not be required to take action to advance themselves or their business.
Leaders have visions. They’re in it long-term to achieve the dream. And they see the people as competent enough to work with them to achieve the vision.
Managers have objectives. They work on prescribed goals (short-term). They rely on control to carry out tasks/functions.