Building Team ‘Awesome’ – Where Are Your Strengths?

Focusing on building the right team to get the job done often makes us forget one thing … ‘change’ happens!

Focusing on building an ‘awesome’ team to deliver solutions to solve problems embraces the most important thing to remember … ‘change’ happens!

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Introducing Team ‘Awesome’

  • Team ‘awesome’ is agile enough to be able to be responsive and proactive to change.
  • Team ‘awesome’ is able to recognise and resolve problems by making smart and informed decisions.
  • Team ‘awesome’ delivers relevant and real solutions for customers rather than delivering products and services to customers

How to Start to Build Team ‘Awesome’

Focusing on the behaviours you see, and the problems they present, instead of focusing on what strengths team members may have that are unseen, underutilized or untapped is where the secret to building and ‘awesome’ team lies.

Do you recognize any of these behaviours in your team?

The Procrastinator

Do you have team members who are indecisive and never seem to finish what they start?

  • Are these team members lacking confidence in the tasks they are expected to complete? If so, ask them why they feel this way and how you can help them to believe in themselves, particularly if the expectations in their role have changed.
  • Are these team members expected to complete tasks that they are under-skilled for?  Have you assessed your employee’s capacity and capability before having an expectation of them? If not, they may procrastinate to avoid being seen as incompetent.
  • Are these team members lost in the detail and cannot concentrate long enough to tick all the boxes to get the job done?  Find out if this person needs lots of information to commit or decide, and if so, how can you support this need?
  • Have you spent enough time explaining what you expect from these team members and the timeline you want them to complete tasks within?

The Antagonist

Do you have team members who create havoc and are sometimes a thorn in the side of other members of your team?

  • When this team member behaves this way are they aware of the impact on other team members?  Determine if this is a subconscious behaviour or one that is deliberate, and if so why?
  • Have these team members always behaved this way or has something changed that made their behaviour change, and if so why?
  • Are your antagonist team members bored and creating situations where they are the hero to challenge themselves?  How can you challenge them to refocus their attention?
  • What is the reward that these team members get by behaving this way?  How else can you reward them for other behaviours that are more appropriate, and in ways that will deliver higher productivity and is conducive to a healthy work culture?
  • Are other team members encouraging these behaviours by submitting or even enabling these team members?  Is being seen as having influence and authority the driver for these team members?

The People Pleaser

Nothing is too hard for these team members.  Give them any task and they will do their absolute best to see it through.

  • Are the team members that you identify as people pleasers capable of the tasks they attempt? How can you make these people feel that their contribution is valued while ensuring they are performing the tasks fit with their skill set and experience?
  • What are these team members looking for in your workplace?  Approval, a sense of belonging, popularity, or other drivers compel people pleasers to behave the way they do.  Identifying what the motivation is for the individual is key to ensuring that the potential of that employee is not lost in the effort and whether their behaviour may be more for personal gain than business productivity.
  • People pleasers often behave the way they do through fear and insecurity in the possibility of losing their role. By pleasing others they may feel that they will be liked and needed by the business, protecting them from their role being compromised.
  • If you channelled the energy that people pleasers spend on pleasing, into tasks that enable them to work to their strengths and give them a sense an opportunity to build a reputation on what they accomplish rather than what they do and say, what difference would that make to your business?

The ‘Accidental’ Leader

Have you got team members who have become accidental leaders? The role they are engaged in is not a leadership role but due to the team dynamics, they have had to stand up and take the lead, or maybe they were appointed into a leadership role but it is not their strength?

  • How can you identify who you natural leaders are, and when you do, how can you create an environment where they can lead, creating a more efficient and effective workplace?
  • Role misalignment can see accidental leaders thrust into an environment with an expectation that they are not engaged to perform.  How do you recognize natural leaders and appointed leaders who are misaligned?  When you do, how do you approach the dynamic of the workplace to take advantage of these leaders skills? Consider that working with these leaders strengths may alter or enhance culture with increased productivity and profitability.

The Quiet Achiever

The quiet achiever comes in, puts their head down and gets on with the task at hand.  Often this silent force pushes through workloads that others avoid, without complaint.

  • Is your visibility of the quiet achiever low?  Are you aware of what they have to offer, and if you are not what is your business missing out on?
  • Are your quiet achievers working to their capacity or just pushing through a workload?  Think about how you can start to introduce incentivization for these people to encourage them to challenge themselves and how you will do this.
  • Do your quiet achievers pick up the slack for other team members who may be taking advantage of their goodwill?  If you change how you measure the performance of your team and focus on their strengths to introduce key performance indicators, will this identify gaps in performance and open up opportunities?

The Whinger

Have you got team members who are never satisfied, never happy and always complaining no matter what you do for them?

  • People often whinge because whining about something is often easier than working to fix problems.  You need to discover why this behaviour keeps occurring to be able to establish a new purpose for these employees and to give them a reason why they would want to change their behaviour.
  • Is there a real reason for the whining that is being caused by the work environment that can be addressed rather than being dismissed?
  • Are their triggers that set off the whining, and if so what are that triggers, and what chain of reactions do these triggers put into motion?  Often taking the time to understand why people believe they need to behave a certain way is a great investment in discovering what motivates and what demotivates individuals and your team.

The Clock Watcher

The clock watcher’s timesheets are regimented and this is reflected in when they arrive at work and when they leave on time every day.  The clock watchers in your team may also be the ones who come in on time and then proceed to make their breakfast or socialize, procrastinating before they start work.

  • Why is your clock watcher disengaged? If they are bored and unhappy is it because their role does not challenge them, or are they only there to collect the weekly pay?
  • Clock watching is not only negative for the business but also impacts on the employee and the team collectively, with productivity suffering and everyone is affected. How can you help these employees to re-engage and take ownership of what they contribute?
  • Enriching the clock watchers job and time managing the activities may shine a light on their strengths and weaknesses, helping you support these employees and improve and enable their level of job satisfaction and value of the contribution they make to the business.

The ‘Big Picture’ Person

When it comes to getting things done it may be a challenge for the ‘big picture’ employee. They can see what needs to happen and inspire others to help them understand how this will happen but they may struggle to focus on making it happen.

  • The big picture person is important to encourage the team to work to achieve long-term goals and projects incrementally.  If you have a balance on your team with members who enjoy detail and process, these people will align well with the big picture person.  Who is on your team and is the mix right?
  • How can you embrace the vision of the big picture person to know where the business direction is going at an operational level? If you do this how will this make the employee feel, and what difference will that make to their level of engagement?
  • Often the big picture person is seen as a dreamer and not a doer. Finding the right vehicles for the big picture person to dream and deliver may help your business continue to gain momentum.  Is this important to help your business remain relevant and provide more insight for other employees?

The Manipulator

The manipulator is often the employee who feels that they have to position other team members by any means to make them look good.  This can be harmless or they can be very destructive.

  • If you have identified a manipulator the default is often to discipline them or spend time putting out fires they have started.  What if you looked at how they are manipulating to identify what they are trying to achieve by doing this?
  • If the manipulator is trying to make themselves look like a hero, how can you give them ownership of a task or project or offer them professional learning to teach them how to do this without creating collateral damage.
  • Often the manipulator’s behaviour is a cry for help.  They are feeling insecure or incompetent and this makes them fearful of their longevity and value to the business.  They often do not understand that they are being destructive or causing the behaviour that they do and may be horrified to think that this is what they are known for.  Showing the manipulator how to demonstrate value, how that is measured and rewarded is a learning process that can realign what once was a challenging employee into a champion employee.

The Follower

The follower just wants to be told what to do, how to do it and get on with doing it.

A follower can become stuck in a rut with little thought or attention to detail when they go through the motions to get the job done.  What if you changed some of the tasks or the ways they were to be done and supported this with training and guidance?

  • Often followers are motivated by basic safety needs and not by incentives and rewards.  Reframing their roles to expand what they do may challenge this. If you leverage the strengths and apply them to new job duties they may respond positively because they see themselves as team players. This will only work if they believe you are not trying to take them away from where they know they are capable. This process, if successful, reinforces their roles rather than changes them in their eyes.
  • How often do you see too many followers and inadequate leadership in teams?  When this happens you have a ‘pack mentality’ that is not conducive to productivity or profitability. If you identify the strengths of all your team members could this help you to change this dynamic?
  • Followers need guidelines or they operate by habit.  Is your business structured to facilitate this or do your team members just operate as they see best?

The Bully

These team members are your human resource nightmare.  This type of employee has the potential to create staff complaint or churn.

  • The typical reaction to a bully is negative and often this may just reinforce the bully to keep doing what they are doing. Likewise, calling them on that behaviour could also create a challenge.  Find out why this behaviour is happening in a non-confrontational way and you might find what pieces are missing that is causing this so you can remediate.
  • A bully often behaves this way because they feel inadequate and they are trying to compensate for what they are lacking.  Find out what is lacking and you may be on the way to defusing that behaviour,
  • Bullies often push to get their own way to validate how they think and how they behave.  Creating a collaborative work environment that is KPI’d on both individual and group efforts may help the bully to conform to achieve outcomes or be seen as the problem if they don’t.

The Innovator

Every team needs innovators to shift thinking from delivering services and products to delivering solutions.

  • Innovators are only an asset to a team when they are given the space and opportunity to discover and innovate.  How will you support this?
  • Innovators need to be measured to ensure that they focus on what the business needs to achieve.  How will you measure your innovators’ input and contribution to solutions and team performance?
  • Innovation can detract from the core business.  How can you structure your team aims and objectives to keep that focus while embracing innovation to remain relevant and competitive?

The Attention Seeker

Everyone likes attention but some employees seek it more than others.  These people can consume time and resource if left unchecked.

  • Why is your attention seekers attention seeking?  Are they looking for acknowledgement or recognition, and if so, why?
  • When you identify what the attention seeker’s motivation is you are able to understand what they need to perform effectively without feeling the need to find reassurance and reinforcement.
  • Rewarding autonomy and initiative may assist to reaffirm worth and value for the attention seeker.  This may work so long as that recognition is visible, and positions them as important in the team environment.

The Social Butterfly

Some employees see the workplace as a social environment.  Although it is good to create healthy relationships in the workplace balance is key.

  • What does the social butterfly want from the workplace?  Are they lonely, have low self-esteem or see their workmates as their friends first and foremost?  Workplaces can satisfy the need to belong, but it is important to nurture a culture where an employee feels they belong and are accepted, but are focussed on delivering what the business needs.  How will you elevate the social butterfly from someone who is perceived as someone who spends too much time around the water cooler, to one who is recognized as a productive and valued team member?
  • Harness the social butterflies talents!  Maybe they can run the social club or coordinate events?
  • Tightening the parameters around time management with performance measurement is another option, shining the light on what is really getting done.

The Reclusive

When an employee feels confronted or intimidated they may become reclusive and go within themselves.

Finding out why your team member is reclusive is the first step to understanding how to change that circumstance.

Being reclusive does not have to mean being unproductive, however, you need to be able to have transparency as to what these team members are actually doing.  If this assessment shows a strong work ethic it may not indicate any overarching challenges that exist but may indicate a person who prefers to work this way.

Respecting the reclusive team member is important, regardless of why they are reclusive, as this suggests that this is their natural default behaviour or by circumstance, they behave this way.  Tread carefully to encourage these team members to have a voice and you may learn a lot from what they have to say.

The Imposter

These team members often get promoted or secure a role without really having the qualifications or experience to perform in that role.

  • Imposters spend their time trying not to get found out.  Symptoms of this are poor performance, delegation and micromanagement.  Treating those symptoms may mean professional learning and mentoring or realignment of their roles. Be careful not to treat only the symptoms.  Focus on true change management.
  • The longer an imposter goes unchecked the more they are likely to impact the productivity of the team performance.  Regular team health checks are important.
  • An imposter will have more impact the higher their level of responsibility.  When you look at your team do you see an imposter impeding decision making and actions?  If so, how will you address this?

Team ‘awesome’ is a work in progress!

Profiling your people and making them feel supported as you go through this process will build trust and confidence and allay fears.

This is not about changing the job description but rather changing the job design. Emphasise and measure the strength and offset the impact of weaknesses by enabling other team members who demonstrate that those weaknesses are their strengths to align the team dynamic to compliment.

 

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