As mentioned in one of my previous articles – it the team that counts for one’s greatest assets. In now-a-day’s fast and complex world, there are almost no tasks that could be performed completely by a single individual, no matter how educated or experienced. It is the combined effort of a team that gets things done. For many team leaders and managers there is a single question that keeps them occupied night and day: “How can I make my team engaged to what we are doing?”. Those who are there longer and lead successful teams the question is: “How do I keep my engaged to what we are doing?” Let’s explore things further.
Engagement can be developed when there is an important common goal. A ‘goal’ is an distinctive target that can be measured and objectively reached. ‘Common’ in this sense means that in way or another the whole team contributes to reaching the goal and ‘important’ highlights the fact that reaching the goal requires a lot of time, resources, skills and cooperation. Best targets to created team engagement are those that have a set time for achieving and achievement can be clearly measured like 1 = target attained, 0 = target not attained. Individual team members know this way exactly what is expected and how the success/failure will be measured.
Engagement is dependent on motivation. To be engaged to a project/task requires focus, skills and hard work often going beyond standard expectations. As there is nothing for free in this world, neither is engagement and this is where motivation comes into play. Negative motivation (“If you do not do it, we will fire you!”, “Make no mistakes, we do not pay you for mistakes”) is not working here as you need to persuade the individual that his / her extra effort (leading to engagement) will be noticed and rewarded. Positive motivation is the key here as rewarding achievements encourages people to do the extra work needed without fearing reprimands when things do not go all as expected. Occasional failure is acceptable as it removes one’s fear for punishment.
Leading by example is one of the most powerful tools a team leader / manager can employ. Only too often there is a vast gap between what the management is saying and what the management is doing. This gap is definitely perceived by the audience of employees and almost automatically lowering trust in management / leadership of the respective company. On another side, showing constant coherence between what a team leader / manager is saying and actually doing increases the trust between the management and the team.
Getting hands dirty. A team leader / manager should not be afraid of getting hands dirty and actually doing some of the work he / she is expecting from his team. By doing this, team members … will see that the team leader / manager actually can DO things (and not only talk about it), … will be thankful for the extra hand when there is a lot of work ahead, … will eventually form a closer relation with the team leader / manager.
Taking care of the team is a must. Since the team is there to take care about the work that needs to be done, team leader / manager is there to take care of the team. Taking care isn’t a one time job, or an occasional task, but a continuous effort that should take a considerable portion of team leader / manager’s daily work. There are many things that should be considered like: needed equipment, communication within the team, allocation of resources, work-life balance, relations within the team …
Motivated and engaged team is the key element for every team leader / manager’s success and ability to deliver results and to earn one’s place within the company. In short terms there are other ways how to be successful even without a team backing and supporting the team leader / manager, but in long terms an engaged team is vital.