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Practical Guide on How to grow and develop an Amazing A-Team

Imagine you have just landed that Leadership Role. You may be in that role already. This is a not-so-easy guide on how to cultivate, enable and optimize this cohesive, multi-skilled unit for the maximum impact
Jaroslav Pantsjoha

Cloud Practice Lead, Investor, Mentor, Contino

Imagine you have just landed that Leadership Role. Heck, You may already be in that role already — you just don’t realize it yet. You're guiding a collective toward the North Star, trying your best to remain effective, collaborating with the team, helping ensure the steady execution of that plan, and progressing toward that Team Objective. Sound Familiar?

Managing a new team is a difficult task. It is critical to start managing your team sustainably to be effective, and yet adaptive in the infinite long-haul game of business cycles.

In that team of yours, these are the people who are going to help you achieve your Business Goal, and in the context of Team Play - That Game Score. Though there will always be individual priorities, preferences, conflicts, needs-wants, and so on and so forth. Managing, Operating, and Developing a team can be very difficult, — but it can also be quite rewarding and certainly very fulfilling.

It’s a great challenge for the Bold and ambitious, and If you’re reading this, then you’re up for the task.

It’s Your Team, Your Players. Let The games begin.

This post explores the ways to harness your team’s individual synergies and create that Great (Effective Operating Team) Environment where Those Operators, Mentees, Colleagues, — Your Team Players can both Learn-Grow and Be Most effective.

Assess your team and your goals.
What are you set out to achieve?

Introducing a new team member to the company culture is one of the first things that managers usually do when they start managing a new team. This way, the employee will know what to expect and what is expected of them in their work environment.

Though if you’re inheriting a team, and a mission objective, — It may be that you already understand the purpose, the priorities, and the objectives to attain such a mission objective. That is all Great, but it may not be what Your Team Player # is thinking, prioritizing, or even aware of.

Communicate the Purpose and align The Team on the common goals.

Easier said than done, but bear with me — I come bearing gifts with links to resources. You can get started with building foundations Building and Managing Effective Teams with this great LinkedIn Course

Learning & Growing

Team managers usually do have regular meetings with their team members in order for them to get feedback about how well they are doing (Both ways!) in their jobs (both jobs!) and how satisfied they are with their work environment.

Yes, this can work both ways — this can help You grow as well.

It's not an opportunity for the Team Lead to micro-manage the Team Player but could be a position of a coach — in the ideal scenario. The Players need to be accountable but also need the opportunity to Learn, Grow and Develop those skills for the benefit of the Team and The Mission Objective.

Failure is to be learned from. Consider organizing a team's regular playback of successes and failures.

It would be a real testament to Psychological Safety if your Team Players are able to talk about their failures in the open, and look to grow and succeed to Play another day.

Here is a great resource from Simon Sinek, a published Author of “Leaders Eat Last” “Find Your Why” and “Infinite Game” on Circle of Safety.

Communication and Trust

Here, this is where you can start this exercise first in your team intros, and socials. Heck, this could be mentioned in your Team Retrospectives.

Communication is so darn understated yet so vital to the success of the Team.

Communication is a juicy topic, and I have just a great course for you to walk through (it’s not that long)

If you don’t go through the course above, or similar — Fine, watch this Ted Talk of what happens when miscommunication Does Happen.

Now, there are many ways that you can start cultivating trust with your team. It’s not a tick-box exercise but an ongoing process. Hard to earn, quick to lose, but here are a couple of guiding points;

First, you should be willing to share what you know and understand about your own self, — what drives You and Motivates You, perhaps your Thought Process. Second, you should be open about what you want from the company, — how the First part links to your purpose with the company, as well as what your goals are for the future.

Show that you care about the people around you with Active Listening (Listening to the Content) when they speak and offering feedback on something that they believe needs improvement in order to make room for growth in their careers. Scrum Ceremonies usually do include the structured organised session for this purpose as part of the Agile framework.

Aligning the Common Goals

Here’s the thing, I didn’t say this is an easy task. I would recommend reading into Eric Ries’ Lean Startup to ensure your Team and Yourself are measuring the right things for the BEFORE and AFTER, as your team heads towards the objective. Ensure you’re doing the Right Things, not just Things Right, — experiencing all the hard effort — being busy — but without moving much closer to your objectives.

A Culture as Motivation

Building a culture is one of the most important things that a company can do. The culture is not just the way employees feel about their work environment, but also how they feel about themselves and their colleagues.

The culture of a company plays an important role in retaining employees. Employees are more likely to stay with an organization if they feel like it’s a good fit for them and the company has values and goals that align with theirs.

It’s also important for companies to have an open dialogue about what kind of culture they want to build. This will help them set realistic expectations for both themselves and their employees.

Not Every Team Player — that member of the team would be 100% in the same personal background, experience and even ambitions. This is what makes this Team-Culture-Effctive-Operation so dynamic, and complex to “Do Culture”, and “Do Movitation with 3 easy Steps”. It really is NOT that simple.

Explore what motivates Your Team Players, and how this “Mission Objective” effort you’ve collectively embarked upon helps THEM attain THEIR own goals as well. Attempt The Full Alignment of the Goals. The Full Circle:

What’s Good for the business is Good for the Team and Good for the Individual.

Following from the earlier sections above, with good team communication and alignment effort, you’d your personal 1–1 sessions as part of your role with your Team Players as part of the norm.

Then attempt to answer the question for every Team Player — What are their priorities on Their Own Personal development Journey, at this very point in time? Explore the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs breakdown of how Physical Needs may be a higher priority.

Here is another take from Simon Sinek on Building a Company Culture that People Want to be part of. It’s the long-term, more sustainable view you may wish to aspire to.

Summary: Lead Your New Team in 10 Not-So-Easy Steps

Managing a team is always a challenging task. It becomes even more difficult when the team is newly formed and you are not sure about their strengths and weaknesses. here are the summary tips that will help you to manage your new team in a few effective steps.

  1. Create an environment that encourages collaboration and innovation with a great degree of psychological safety. A culture of #learning and #growing
  2. Create transparency by sharing all (sensible) information with your team members — no one feels ever left out by having all team goals aligned on
  3. Encourage feedback from your team members. You start. Ask for tangible feedback on improvement. Not just “feel-good” niceties.
  4. Give them autonomy over their work — and the opportunity to grow means you should NOT micromanage them. However, provide constructive feedback
  5. Set clear goals and expectations for each of them — Team and Team Players need clear accountability and responsibilities
  6. Provide training to increase their skillset and knowledge base — on-the-job training is great, and learning ahead of the task about industry best practices and patterns is even better. This may accelerate and improve the quality of future work
  7. Provide incentives to motivate them — Ensure incentives are aligned well. Encourage and Reward team performance, and individual growth. Be careful what behavior you incentivize. Don’t Do a Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer.
  8. Give them a regular change of work and allow them to take risks — Options and Opportunities for Grow are both interesting and rewarding for personal development.
  9. Provide the necessary time and resources — It’s a simple point, but at times overlooked. Tasks need to be sized by the team, not YOU, and resources can mean dependencies on other people for expertise. This is about Team Operating Model (Scrum, Agile Framework if you’re in Tech)
  10. Allow questioning, debate, and occasional disagreement in your company culture — Disagreement is healthy and indicates there is an improvement to be made. Don’t squash it. Zero Conflict may mean a detached and unmotivated team.

Ok, that's a wrap.

I am always up for a healthy discussion on this topic, so reach out on LinkedIn if you want to connect.

Fast-track: If you’re looking for a quick takeaway on Leadership, there is a great short-cast/blinkist “Leadership In You” that I found very insightful.

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