By: Kathy Kent Toney, President of Kent Business Solutions
I look at this picture and smile…
One of my passions is playing guitar and singing on my church’s worship team. Sometimes I’m even the leader of the band!
These are my friends and fellow band mates in the picture (with the exception of the baby, of course…lol).
I smile, because we make a great team. We’ve made great music and have had a lot of fun together in the process.
I say all this as a backdrop to what I’d like to write about today. If you’re not familiar with what I do, I’m all about helping organizations to increase their profitability beyond their imagination…through streamlined operations and digital transformation strategies.
One essential building block for true transformation to occur is great teamwork. Since I’ve learned so much about this from leading a band, I thought it would be great to give you some real-life examples to illustrate some team building best practices you can apply to your own teams.
Let’s dive in!
1. Come Prepared to Work, Yet Don’t Take Themselves Too Seriously
It makes sense that our team does best when everyone comes prepared. And even when they don’t, taking a lighthearted approach can really be effective.
For instance, my worship pastor kept making mistakes one morning and I was actually really prepared. I kept making fun of him: “Hey, you’re the one who’s supposed to be prepared!” We all laughed at his expense and that loosened everyone up.
Lessons Learned: Do the necessary homework to lead your team. And when you find yourself in a situation where you aren’t prepared, be quick to make fun of yourself or laugh at your own expense when your team members poke fun at you. And it’s important to create that environment where team members feel safe to do that.
2. Make Sure Everyone’s on the Same Page
As a band leader, I’ve learned the importance of making sure that team members play or sing the right thing in the right place at the right time. This often involves giving specific directions well in advance of our rehearsal. For example, I’ll make sure to tell the electric guitarist to play a particular riff in one section of a song. This helps our rehearsal to go much smoother.
This also involves giving special attention to new team members, including time outside rehearsals, so they can feel more welcome and be more easily integrated into the team.
A great example is something I did last week…I worked on-on-one with a new background vocalist who to prepare for this weekend to help her prepare here and also lessen her nerves. The result…she did great and really enjoyed herself!
Lessons Learned: Give specific directions to team members well before you typically would to help ensure projects stay on track. Also, take specific actions to help new team members to be quickly assimilated into the team. This can help with their morale and future contributions to the team.
3. Work Through Obstacles with Grit and Grace
One Sunday, the worship pastor was out of town and I was left in charge. I had done everything I knew how to prepare, but everything went off the rails during rehearsal. We had three new team members, and since I was relatively new at leading, I didn’t know what direction to give to the new team members to make it work. My frustration level was pretty high, but I still lead with grit and grace. Despite our challenging rehearsal, we did relatively well during the service.
Lessons Learned: Keep forging ahead during challenging times, keeping your team encouraged and giving calm, level-headed direction to hold them together. This sets the tone for them to continue working towards achieving team goals.
4. REALLY Learn from Your Mistakes
After that challenging Sunday, it became evident is that I have a few things to learn about being a better leader to the team! I lacked the experience to do #2 above (Make sure everyone is on the same page). I discovered I needed to learn more about the drummer’s and keyboardist’s role in a band…that was my problem that day. So, I have my homework cut out for me before I lead again. AND, then I’d be more equipped to do #2!
One great outcome is this…if this hadn’t of happened, I would’ve never learned what was needed for me to get better.
Lessons Learned: Take an objective view of your mistakes without judgment and latch onto the opportunity to learn from them. By taking action on those areas, you’ll improve your team building and leadership skills
5. Create Feedback Loops for Improvement Purposes
One thing I did that Sunday was ask for feedback from the team as I was running the rehearsal. Since I didn’t know the next best thing to do, I asked for their thoughts. As the team worked together, we were able to iron out the biggest problems and make it work in the end.
Lessons Learned: Individual team members are often your best source of advice in helping to overcome obstacles. Many times, they know a lot more than you do about different aspects of your projects. Let them know that you are always open to advice to help the team run better.
6. Have Fun Together
I left this one for last, because if you do all the above things, your team is much more apt to have fun together. Remembering to laugh at yourself and laugh together is a key part of that.
That’s one reason why I smile when I look at the picture above…we’ve worked through all these five areas at various times to become a great team that has fun together. Great teams do that.
Lessons Learned: Creating that culture of fun can make all the difference in the success of projects. When you can celebrate your victories, overcome your obstacles with grit and grace and still laugh together, you’re helping to create that fun culture. And that’s a great building block for great teamwork.
Speaking of teamwork, how many of you are challenged to engage your remote workforce? Would you like to create a fun culture within those teams?
If that’s you, I’ve created a free cheat sheet on how to engage your remote workforce. Just click the button below to download it!