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Supporting Teams, Rewarding Team Players, Role Allocation

Supporting Teams

1. Support Your Team by Reviewing Work Frequently

Don’t be a seagull manager, only meeting with your team when there is a crisis. Don’t leave your team working on the big report for two months and then review it right at the end. Be sure to check in with your team early and often.

Leaving your team to work alone until you come in and criticise their work will lead to increased stress and failure.

Book regular progress meetings to understand how your team members are progressing, and if they need assistance.

2. Support Your Team by Sticking Up For Them

Sometimes, people will attack your team. Whilst it is important that you try to understand any issues, your default position should be that you stand up for your team. If you don’t, then you probably have trust issues which need to be fixed.

Of course, you can’t just ignore problems your team may have caused. Even so, your team needs to see that you are willing to stick up for them, when needed.

If your team sees you back off or contradict them at the first sign of conflict, they’ll begin to feel exposed.

3. Support Your Team By Communicating Accountability

When you delegate accountability to someone in your team, it needs to be communicated clearly. The worst thing you can do is tell your team member that they are accountable, but not tell anybody else. This puts them in a situation where roles and responsibilities are unclear.

Make it easy for your team member when you delegate accountability to them. Tell the team member they are accountable. Then tell the people they are working with. This removes a lot of infighting that can occur as part of delegating accountability.

4. Support Your Team By Setting Standards

Working in a team without any standards is difficult for everybody. It’s difficult for the leader, because the team members will produce variable outcomes. It’s difficult for team members because they don’t have direction.

You need to support your team by setting standards for the work that you do. If your team works on technical tasks, make sure technical standards are in place.

On creative tasks, standardise the process, rather than the creative output. This will increase their confidence and give them some “guard rails” to follow.

When you have performance standards in place, you can more easily see whether your team is meeting them. Anything below the line is a cause for concern and may indicate an area where you need to provide more support.

5. Support Your Team By Being Available

Some leaders are difficult to contact. Sometimes this is the nature of their position. Regardless, you need to ensure that you provide your team with frequent opportunities to talk to you.

Set times when you will be available and stick to them. Make yourself available to your team so they have opportunities to discuss and confirm things with you.

You may think that you are showing trust by allowing your team just to “get on with it” without you. Your team may just feel like you’re never around and don’t care about them.

6. Support Your Team By Developing Their Skills

A team that isn’t learning is stagnating. Teams that aren’t given opportunities to develop their skills may suffer from a lack of confidence to perform at their best.

It’s up to you to provide opportunities to learn through mentoring, training or on the job coaching. Targeting areas where team members are lacking confidence is a good starting point.

Cross training your team is also very important. Cross training means spreading skills and experience throughout your team. This removes the problem of “Tim is the only person who knows anything about this and he just quit.” Oops!

Cross training also allows your team members to work with colleagues to solve problems, rather than feeling like they’re the only person who can understand them.

Rewarding Team Players

Everyone deserves to feel valued by their employer.

In a perfect world, as an employer you would be able to give everyone wonderfully large raises and hold a lavish company dinner every month, but that’s not a realistic possibility for most companies. Finding ways to reward your employees doesn’t have to be extraordinarily expensive.

When people say “it’s the thought that counts”, there’s a lot of truth to that statement.

Simple, thoughtful gestures will go a long way to express your gratitude. Employees who feel appreciated will work harder and enjoy their job more, creating a win-win situation for everyone.

1. Praise

Praise won’t cost you a dime. Using meaningful praise is the simplest way to show that you care, and everyone will appreciate that.

A handwritten thank you note or a private conversation detailing how much you appreciate an employee’s efforts will create a long lasting dialogue about performance while keeping your employees on the right track and improving engagement.

Try to steer away from generic emails or general praise cards, as these will cheapen the gesture and feel more like an obligation than proper recognition. Some managers believe in creating a recognition culture at their organizations.

I’ve heard of an executive who one day simply decided to start every management meeting by having every supervisor give two examples of employees whose work was exceptional on this day. At first, most felt it was forced and kind of cheesy, but they quickly embraced it and grew to appreciate it.

2. Showcasing

Your best employees are the rock stars of your company. Providing them with the opportunity to lead by example will reinforce the idea that their accomplishments are, in fact, exemplary.

Recognizing employees as leading specific categories, such as sales, customer service, or support, will make them feel validated. Try putting a leaderboard up in the break room to showcase your monthly winners.

This will also inspire other employees to compete for the top spot. Leaderboards should always be designed to encourage, not discourage players. Arriving at a new workplace, the player who earned 5 points will be more than discouraged to see that the top player has already gained 5000.

The player will likely disengage from the gamification process altogether. One way to avoid it is to slice the leaderboard to show data relevant to:

  • Location – rank relative to others in the same geographic area.
  • Social Context – players can see how they’re doing against their Twitter or Facebook friends. The leaderboard should be limited to show only those players who have spent a similar amount of time on the site.
  • Business Context – showing leaders divided by category.
  • Time – leaderboards set up every month or year to show top performers at the organization.

3. Responsibility

The amount of responsibility you give to an employee should directly correlate with how capable you believe they are.

Selecting employees to take the lead on important tasks, or giving them the ability to make their own judgement calls without your involvement shows them that you believe they’re up to the task. It demonstrates that you take their career goals seriously, and they’re worth your consideration to move up or take on a more important role within the company.

4. Gamification

Gamification is an excellent way to reward everyone at once. Using gamification to add a new level of interest to routine tasks will boost your engagement and set a fun, competitive environment for your employees.

They’ll feel less like they’re being pushed to work hard without recognition, and more like you want to have fun with them by rewarding their results. It doesn’t matter what the game is or what you’re raffling off.

It could be something as simple as a free lunch or a movie ticket. They’ll appreciate the effort you took to make their workplace a little more exciting. There are many software solutions to help you provide a gamified experience that is both socially safe and engaging to employees.

One of them is Hoopla, a solution which helped one company to increase its call volume by 20% and contributed to the growth of a strong internal sales team.

For many organizations using Hoopla, the software has become an integral part of the company life, showing how gamified strategies bring about not only stronger competition, but also collaboration and organizational culture.

5. Small Events

Try to throw a small break room celebration every few weeks. You can celebrate monthly birthdays and company anniversaries with a cake, iced with the relevant employees’ names.

Provide catered lunches during important business times to show your employees that you appreciate everyone rising to meet the occasion. Use any excuse you can find to have a modest employee appreciation event. This serves to reinforce the idea of constant gratitude.

6. Gift Cards

Five dollars here or there is perfect. Passing out gift cards once in a while to a local sandwich shop or a popular coffee chain is a reasonable and appropriate gift that won’t break the bank.

Giving these to employees to celebrate personal successes, birthdays, employment anniversaries, or simply stepping up to the plate in a great time of need is a very personal way to say thank you. It’s the same as saying “I owe you a cup of coffee for all the hard work you did.”

7. Flexibility

Someone has gone above and beyond in their duties for the day.

They’ve exceeded what you could have reasonably expected from them. Why don’t you let them cut the day short? If someone stayed late the night before putting necessary finishing touches on a project, tell them to come in an hour or two later the next day so they can catch up on their sleep.

You can even allow them to take an extra day off if they’ve done a solid job and superseded their goals. Helping them create an ideal work and life balance is massively rewarding, because you’re giving them extra time to spend with their loved ones, or pursue their passions.

These are all strategies that you can implement immediately. Employers who make an extra effort to show their employees a fair amount of appreciation will see boosts in productivity, an overall increase in job satisfaction, and greater employee retention.

Role Allocation

Team Leaders need to allocate roles to team members in such a way that the roles are coordinated to achieve the team’s goals and that team members take responsibility for their individual roles. Allocating appropriate roles and coordinating these roles can lead to increased morale and motivation.

Allocating Roles to Team Members:

There are a number of factors that Team Leaders need to consider when allocating roles to ensure that the team is effectively meeting its goals. Team Leaders need to ensure that team members:

  • Understand their roles
  • Understand the roles of their team mates
  • Understand how the roles interrelate in the achievement of the team’s goals
  • Have authority to coordinate activities with team mates

Understand Their Roles

In order to be effective in their assigned roles, team members clearly need to understand their role and the expectations of the role. If the expectations are unclear then the team member may inadvertently underachieve thus jeopardising the successful achievement of the team goals.

Understand the Roles of Team Mates

Understanding the roles of team mates helps ensure that team members concentrate on their own responsibilities and that their actions do not impinge on their team mates functions. Team members need to understand the challenges and basic functions of other roles so that they can support and complement their team mates.

Understand How the Roles Interrelate in the Achievement of Team Goals

As team members take ownership of the team’s goals it is important that they understand how the different roles of each team member interrelates. Knowing that each role is contributing towards the achievement of team goals encourages team members to play their part and take responsibility for their work. Understanding how the team operates increases the sense of belonging to a team and a belief that the whole team is moving in the same direction.

Have Authority to Coordinate Activities with team mates

It is important that team mates have the authority to coordinate their activities with team mates. This helps ensure that obstacles can be effectively dealt with by the team and that opportunities for improvements to the work process can be capitalised upon.

Allocating Tasks to Team Members:

One method for allocating the appropriate type of tasks to team members is Responsibility Charting. Responsibility Charting involves identifying who is best suited to dealing with a situation or issue in a certain way by identifying four roles that individuals adopt in relation to a decision. These four roles are:

  • Information provider
  • Consultant
  • Decision maker
  • Knowledge recipient

For example, one team member may be given the role of identifying and providing information about a problem or issue. Another team member, who has past experience may be consulted on appropriate options. The Team Leader may be required to select an option and make it happen and a senior manager may need to be informed of the decision (receive the knowledge).

Note that more than one person may take on each role. In the above example fellow team members may have to be informed of the decision.

By consulting with team members it is possible for individuals to indicate the role they feel they should play in any particular decision. This helps encourage team members to adopt the roles they feel most comfortable with. This in turn helps ensure that individuals are encouraged to take responsibility for their roles.

However, on some occasions it is important that the Team Leader encourages team members to take on roles that they are less inclined to select for themselves as this aids the development of the individual and helps ensure that the team as a whole is strengthened.

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