Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Team By Any Other Name ...

The other day, a reader asked, "Why do you keep saying 'team members' instead of 'employees?'"  Simple - I've never thought of those who report to me as employees.  The word "employee" has gotten a bad connotation over the years, almost along the lines of an "us" and "them" standoff, where the bosses are "us" and the employees are "them."  It's too easy to think of employees as those residing beneath the bosses.

When you really think about it, though, aren't we all employees at whatever company we work?  We all have those to whom we report.  We all have specific tasks to perform within certain parameters.  So why would we think of others in similar positions as lesser than we are just because they report to us.  If anything we'd want to look at them as our peers, our team mates, valuable company assets to which we are entrusted.

Sound a little "pie in the sky?"  Consider that most companies spend approximately $3,000 per new employee between the time of application until the first day of work; that's BEFORE the employee works one hour on the job.  Add in training, benefits and all the other things a company puts into an employee and you can see where the term "asset" comes in.

As a manager, you can fall into the trap of feeling superior to your employees, assuming they come to work to goof off and that they need your constant supervision or nothing would get done.  OR, you can look for ways of creating, building and nurturing a team, assuming everyone is an adult who comes to work to do the best they can, with everyone having the same goal of completing the work, keeping the company profitable and working in an atmosphere of cooperation.

Which situation would you rather work in - one where you were always feeling like someone was out to get you or one where everyone's working toward the same goal?  What's the difference?  You and whether you want to manage a bunch of employees or lead a team.

What is "team?"

A team is a collective group of people working toward a common goal that works together to mentor and support each member of the team.  To function properly, there must be a team leader and team players, much like a football team; the coach, who is an integral part of the team, sees the value in each person within their position and uses those skills to win the game - it's no different in business.

To function properly, each team member must have and receive:

  • Trust
  • Respect
  • Compromise
  • Cooperation
  • Direction
  • Communication
  • Energy
  • Listening
So where would you rather work - somewhere that fosters a team attitude or an office where you are constantly on edge every day?  Your team members feel the same way and you have the power to make it so.  So do it!  

Over the next few posts, we're going to look at the qualities of great leaders, how to build a team out of disparate individuals and how to know whether what you're doing is working.