My phone rang again this week. It was a front-line leader I have known for years having team trouble.
“I can’t get them motivated. They just don’t seem to care like I do. I am not sure what to do, I’ve tried everything.”
I have received this same call many times over the years, not from this person but from others in similar circumstances.
When the frustration level hits a wall like that, I go back to my most fundamental belief about team building: great teams are built one person at a time.
Until that fundamental trust is built between the leader and each individual team member, team meetings will likely remain superficial and team builders won’t get much traction.
Also, it’s a lot less daunting to think about how you can empower one person’s success, rather than feeling like you need to influence an entire team all at once.
Doing this involves meeting the person where they are. And as Dan Rockwell suggests, adapting your style the person you are working to influence.
Steps for One Person at a Time Team Building
Set the stage with the group
- Start positive: express your commitment to their development
- Be careful not to position it as fixing something broken
- Let the team know you will be reaching out to set up individual meetings
Prepare by thinking about your impressions of each person
- What are they most proud of?
- What do they care most about?
- What excites them?
- What’s their biggest strength?
- What seems to scare them?
- Who do they respect? Why?
- What is their role on the team?
- What do they want to do next?
Hold individual discussions
- Ask some of the questions above
- Really listen
- Resist the urge to comment or challenge, take it all in
- Consider: what surprised you? What did you learn?
- Agree on one or two key actions with measurements of success
- Pick one great thing and ask them to share back at the next team meeting
- Establish time to check in
On the side
- Find time to learn more about who they are and what they do outside of work
- Share a bit about yourself and look for common interests
- Look for opportunities to work with them on something fun
- Encourage opportunities for team members to work together
Incorporate some highlights into future team meetings
- Start with asking each team member to share something they are proud of
- Ask them to share a best practice or teach something
- Have them share wins around their key actions
Please share your experiences what team building techniques have worked best for you?
Karin – I love your Steps. Will use this all over the place – particularly with my youth advisers. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.
Thanks so much for sharing, Lisa. You are FANTASTIC at the one person at a time thing. You could write the book
Great post. Reminds me of building a successful classroom environment. Groups are built from individuals.