Developing Your Team
Written by Jason Schroeder
January 16, 2022
When you're developing a work team, it’s important to get organized: Organize yourself first, and then organize and build that team.
“There's no such thing as appropriately babysitting people and letting others waste your time. A certain amount of coaching is appropriate,” says Schroeder. “But — with your trade partners, or with your vendors, or with workers or people on your project site — you want to coach them, but you don't want to babysit them. You have to hold the standard.”
Holding the standard creates stability for a team. For Schroeder, “the ultimate end of all success with this is that husbands and wives and partners can get home to their significant other on time in a stable week, with the balance and leverage and the unity of that team.”
What high-performing teams require.
Developing your team starts with what Schroeder calls “intentional coverage.” When you build the team, he says, “you have to know who's who's on first, who's on second, you have to know who's covering for critical portions of your project, who's staying late, who's locking up the gates, who's supervising the loading of that material while the other person goes home and has a work life balance.”
It’s a matter of your team’s having both the right composition and the right communication systems. With any given project, “The key is to be at the right place at the right time with the right coverage, knowing what the plan is for that day,” says Schroeder.
Schroeder reminds leaders that they need to do five key things to succeed at team-building:
- Build the team.
- Have hard conversations.
- Manage, mentor, and coach your direct reports.
- Hold remarkable meetings.
- Scale your communications.
Once you have the right team members and leadership behaviors in place, you’re still missing the thing that brings it all together: a strenuous performance goal. Without a common purpose — and the accountability that such a purpose inspires — your team isn’t yet a real team.
To Schroeder, “A team is only a team when they hold each other accountable.” It’s not enough to have a goal. A team with a goal can still be more of a potential team or a pseudo team, if the members are not committed to holding themselves mutually accountable for the results. “A real team holds each other accountable.”
“And,” as Schroeder says, “you are mutually concerned about each other's careers and wellbeing.”
Three key success factors.
Every successful team has certain things in common. Schroeder points to three key factors.
First, as noted above, “Every team has to have a strenuous performance goal. Every team — it doesn't matter where you are — you have to have a strenuous performance goal."
Second, you have to engage in five key behaviors:
- The creation and building of trust
- Engaging in healthy conflict
- The setting of goals together as a team
- Holding each other accountable
Notice that speed and efficiency aren't on the list, and there's a reason for that. Remember, a strenuous performance goal is about accountability and purpose—not how fast or strict you can be. Once you have a strenuous performance goal and those five behaviors, there’s one more thing a successful team needs: a multiplier leader.
Schroeder contrasts the "multiplier leader" with the "diminishing leader." The diminishing leader doesn’t give their people much credit for being smart enough to manage their own work. The diminishing leader micromanages and plays with people. By contrast, a multiplier leader will enable and teach and coach.
“They leverage and they allow, and they really drive a team to success,” says Schroeder. “You need a strenuous performance goal, the five key behaviors, and a multiplier leader.”
In order to succeed, you need a leader who develops and mentors their people, “where you are creating trust, having healthy conflict, setting goals together, holding each other accountable and performing towards that strenuous performance goal.” Then, says Schroeder, “You can win.”
Schroeder maintains that all three factors are required to deliver a winning team. It’s not enough to have good people without a performance goal, or to have a performance goal where the team hates each other and they’re not performing. And even a good team and a legitimate performance goal will suffer without the right leadership.
For a deeper dive, Schroeder recommends the books of Patrick Lencioni, including The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, The Motive, Death by Meeting, and The Advantage. Schroeder also finds that when teams read and discuss these books together, the leadership concepts really take hold.
When the mission of the team is well understood and has everyone moving in the same direction, that’s when you start getting remarkable results.
Written by Jason Schroeder
January 16, 2022