Having good team players is key to great teams. No matter what other fancy stuff we do in the name of team building, if your team members are not good team players, managing the team will be quite a struggle.
How can good team players be developed?
Team players are usually the people that are known for sharing and hard work. This alone will not be sufficient as people also want to see their career progress and be recognized.
Then how do you focus people towards the team goals?
Being a team player often involves doing the right thing by not always having your self benefit in mind. Again, in this age of fast forward on careers and achievement, I cannot see how most people will accept this line.
The question of “what is in it for me?” must be answered.
Team goals and objectives must be set. There is no compromise for this because there is no need for the team if not for the project. Now, for the team members. They must have their personal development goals also set. In some organizations, employee development plan is part of the people development process.
In fact, people placement into projects are very much influenced by the employee development plans. If this has already happened and the team members are in line for career progress through this team assignment, then half the battle is won.
If this is not how they were assigned, then the project manager or the team leader can discuss with the team members on what are their development and career progression goals. Many a time, it is possible that by contributing to the project success, the team members would also make progress.
The fact that you even bothered to find out what are their personal development goals, you would already have created a positive impression with the team members. Just this alone could make a difference in your team building efforts.
There will be times when the project goals and the team members’ plans are not in a similar direction. First thing you must do is to decide whether skill-wise this person fits into the team requirements. If not, do yourself and the team a favor and get a replacement for this person. You might also be doing this person a favor.
However, if it is not a skill mismatch, then understand this person’s aspirations and see if it is possible to assign some activities that will achieve these. Again, it will be a win-win-win-win situation for you, the team, the team members and especially the project which after all is what it is all about. Just caring enough for the individual will make the person contribute more to the project.
If despite all this, the team members still think that this project or team is not where they want to be in, then there is one other suggestion. It is not always that we can choose exactly what we want to do.
But then, it is not always that we know what are the possibilities in our lives. Maybe, this is the opportunity that will bring something different that could lead to new possibilities. Suggest that they look for new skills and experiences that will become part of their resume for the next job.
Remind them of Napoleon Hill’s ” Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
This is not hype! How can it be hype if Napoleon Hill’s books are as popular now as they were years ago? But if the project or team leader thinks it is hype, then this is a difficult step for the leader.
As someone said ” I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care”. I think one of the secrets in team building is caring not only for the project but also for each of the team members.
By John Vaughan