New year, new start – new team?
The new year is synonymous with change, and we always seek to make change for the better. The majority of us make new year’s resolutions. Some will be stuck to, some will fall by the wayside.
Many of us decide to make a new start, often in our working lives. Although for many people this will mean a new job, making a new start in work doesn’t always mean starting afresh to that degree. As a manager you may be bringing new blood into the team, and as a team member may find yourself alongside new colleagues.
It’s a great time to make new work resolutions, and obviously plan how you are going to achieve your goals in 2016. One of the key areas to keep in mind is how you are all going to work together as a team. There’s strength in numbers, and working cohesively with the people around you means you are all far more likely to achieve your individual goals.
Be prepared for the rough before the smooth
If you are working with new team members, joining a new team or just turning over a new leaf, it’s an exciting time. But that initial excitement can soon subside when things get a little rocky. This is completely normal though and a well documented part of the team forming process. If you’ve not come across it before, here’s an overview of the four common stages:
- Forming – this is the exciting bit, often filled with high-fives all round (probably executed badly if you’re in the UK)
- Storming – this is where the laughter subsides and things can get a little tougher. The size of the task in hand is realised, some challenging personality conflicts emerge or the honeymoon period has simply passed.
- Norming – the task feels more manageable, strengths have emerged out of those personality differences and reality doesn’t seem so bad afterall.
- Performing – everything comes together, the milestones are hit and targets are achieved or exceeded. More high-fives (they get better with practice).
Think like the X-men (and women)
We don’t mean be paranoid about needing to save the world any moment from a slightly deluded intellectual with a penchant for all things metal. Unless that is your job of course – in which case do.
What we mean is this; you don’t see Cyclops complaining about his lack of ability to push blades out through his hands, and you certainly don’t see Wolverine moping about because he can’t shoot a laser beam out of his face. Each character has their own strengths and therefore their own role to play in the team.
Recognise the strengths in others and concentrate on playing to your own. If you aren’t using your strengths, talk to your company about how you can. (If there isn’t space for them, well it might be time to look for a new team).
It can be annoying to work with someone you feel isn’t approachable, especially when you need help. But have the courage to take a hard look at yourself too. As far as the rest of the team are concerned, are you that person? If you find yourself wanting for better relationships with other team members, taking an honest look at how you interact with them can be the quickest route to making huge leaps forward. True, it can be difficult to give yourself an honest appraisal. So why not ask the team for some feedback? If they run away or faint at the prospect, that probably tells you a lot.
Be generous with credit
That doesn’t mean taking the team out for a night on your plastic. Be generous with your praise of others who have done a great job, even if that means doing so on a task you shared 50/50. If you sit there waiting for the praise to come your way, it will rarely do in the way you expect. If you are generous with the credit you attribute to others, then you’ll probably find a lot more coming your way.
Leave no-one behind
With everyone positioned to use their strengths and do what they enjoy, the successes will start to come thick and fast. That doesn’t mean that the tough patches will simply vanish. We all go through them and they can often creep up on us before we realise what’s happening. It’s never good when it happens to you and it’s horrible to watch in others. Keep an eye on each other, give help to those who need it and the team will flourish. Ignore it to focus purely on yourselves and you’ll all suffer as a result.
As a hiring manager
The battle for top talent is well documented and the challenges in sourcing look to continue in 2016. Having become a master of social recruiting and successfully weathered the changes in recruitment practice, it would be a shame to see your efforts fall apart at the most critical time. That time starts the moment your new team member walks through the door. Successful recruitment doesn’t stop when the offer is made, it continues throughout the employment.
Part of your responsibility in on-boarding your new staff member is to ensure that they are well integrated into the team. Spot warning signs of discord early and take appropriate action. The appropriate action of course, may well be to do nothing if the issue is better resolved by the team working it through themselves. But don’t ignore action you need to take and hope in vain that things will be naturally resolved.