Know Your Team!
Managing a team today requires us to cultivate an environment that values learning, where leaders have a positive motivational impact on the individuals within their team.
James Champy, author of Reengineering Management (HarperCollins, 1995) stated, “we must hold fast to our faith in human beings: the knowledge and belief that we are all eager to learn, and capable of dedication, high spirits, and individual responsibility.” When leaders understand both their organization and the individual members of their team, they are able to collaborate to determine personalized goals to empower their team for success and move the organization forward.
As a leader, you may think it is your job to develop your people. It is a mistake to think this way. An individual’s development is his or her own responsibility. People have to want to grow and develop. Without this drive from within, even your most steadfast efforts to assist your team members will not succeed.
It is your responsibility to drill down and to build relationships within the team.
It is your responsibility to drill down and to build relationships within the team. When you know your employees, you are able to learn each person’s passions, strengths and weaknesses. One way to accomplish this is to meet with each team member at least once per month. This will provide you insights on individual job accomplishments and where each person is on a personal level. Open communication helps build trust and foster an understanding of others’ positive intentions.
Too many supervisors fail to do this. Many supervisors are promoted into a leadership role and are ill-equipped to handle people and relationship management. They focus on tasks or objectives and do not understand that the key to their success is how they interconnect job tasks with what motivates each team member. Supervisors who use an open communication style can jump to the next level of team performance and acquire the emotional intelligence today’s workforce demands.
If I have learned anything from my 30-plus years in Human Resources, and specifically during my time at Colorado Christian University, it is how important it is to empower teams and stay focused on the things ahead. To do this, you must have a communication style that builds people up. This is crucial if you want people to grow and the organization to meet or exceed its objectives. Further, you have to realize that these accomplishments take many distinct teams working together toward the same mission. To achieve an organization’s objectives, individuals from many backgrounds must come together, united by the mission, to perform varied roles and jobs in harmony.
Let’s say you are tasked with a huge organizational objective for your team. You are given a short time to accomplish it, and are provided with a team of people from all over the country with varied backgrounds and skills. With no best practices to follow, or books or blogs to guide you through the pitfalls, could you unite this team? Could you achieve the mission objectives, and accomplish something no one else has done before?
Gene Kranz did. As Flight Director of the Apollo 11 moon landing, he was credited with building and leading such a team. One insight to his leadership style is that he wanted to be sure everyone was on the same page. A July 15, 2019 CBS News story by William Harwood, entitled “The inside story of Apollo 11's nail-biting descent to the surface of the moon” quotes Steve Bales who was then the guidance officer in mission control. He recalled of Kranz: “He said however we walk out of this room, whatever happens, we're walking out as a team. I'm taking responsibility. However we get out of here, we're going out as a team, we're not pointing fingers at anybody.” Kranz knew the value of building a successful team by bringing people together, equipping them to perform unique roles with developed expertise.
This is our charge. To take our teams and mold them into a united ministry ready to take on whatever comes their way. Each individual must on their own decide to engage, take on the mission and apply it to their daily work. They will do this because they understand the impact that their contribution has on the success of the organization. They will partner with you to succeed as individuals and as a team. Isn’t this exactly what Jesus did with his 12 disciples?
Rick Garris is the Assistant Vice President of HR at Colorado Christian University. He has worked in HR at nonprofit and for-profit industries, while spending the past 12 years in Christian higher education.