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Why Teams Truly Succeed or Fail One Relationship at a Time

© Shawn Stratton

© Shawn Stratton

Have you ever had a conversation with a team leader and came away thinking “I can’t believe she said that to me?”

During a performance review I was once told that I should ‘act more like Sara’. I almost choked on my saliva at this statement and hardly remember the rest of the conversation. My supervisor at the time may have thought this would give me a clear picture of their expectation for me and motivate me to excel in my position. This may be the case for some people but for me at that time it offended me, causing a great loss of respect for my supervisor and demotivation for my work.

Know Your Team

I often have team leaders ask me why they are struggling to get their team to behave a certain way. Sure it is a big question and with big questions there could potentially be many answers for it but I usually start with asking how well they know the team member individually. I don’t mean their resumes or job responsibilities, although I am usually surprised by how little they know these. I ask how well you know their personalities and how to best communicate with them. It is critical that team leads realize you can’t communicate the same way with every team member.

As you build rapport with your team members, you will learn how to best communicate with each of them individually. One of the fastest ways to speed up this process is to ask them how, when and what kind of feedback they would like to receive. It is amazing how few people ask this simple question. Wouldn’t you like it if your supervisor asked you these questions about feedback? If you really want to shock a supervisor, ask them how they would like you to offer feedback to them… Now that’s a subject for another blog.

Communication is Key to Team Building

As you build individual relationships with team members, if you are perceptive, you will learn to communicate with each individual to gain trust, respect and a higher level of performance. Some members you will joke around and be sarcastic with while with others you will be more direct. Some you will need to provide constant positive feedback and others may devalue praise if it comes constantly. Some you will need to give explicit instructions for a task and others will be offended if you go into great detail on how a project is to be performed.

© Shawn Stratton

© Shawn Stratton

Team leaders find that problems arise with teams when they are unwilling to bend their communication style. Teams don’t simply implode together all at one time. It is usually a drip, drip, drip effect of tarnished relationships brought on by poor communication. As mentioned in a previous blog, Why You Need A Friend at Work teams are built by strong social bonds, one relationship at a time.

In the example above, my supervisor had not taken the time to really get to know my personality, how I liked to receive feedback and what motivates me. The best way to strengthen your team, one relationship at a time, is by spending time with them in person or virtually, getting to know them and asking them lots of questions about who they are and what they like. Leaders ask lots of questions!

Think about your team members. How well do you know their personalities, what motivates them, and how they like to receive feedback? How do you build teams one relationship at a time? Share your tips in the comments below!