There’s the old joke that says there is no “I” in team, but there’s a “me”. It is easy to understand that a team full of individuals will not accomplish as much as one that works together. That is the essence of team work; working together to reach a common goal.
In past blogs we spoke of the importance of knowing your followers and understanding them. That concept will be further discussed here. It is vital that you understand what your followers’ strengths and weaknesses are so that when you assign them to specific projects, clients or accounts you can keep their strong suits in mind therefore ensuring a better fit both for staffer and for the work at hand. It makes sense that you would use a plumber for a plumbing problem or an excel whiz in creating analytical documents. Likewise, you would smartly avoid asking your plumber for accounting advice or your accountant to fix your leaky faucet.
There is a second school of thought that suggests you can assign someone to a project as an exercise to help them improve in a particular area but remember to provide them with adequate support to ensure they do not fail and that the project/client is well taken care of. It can be demoralizing for someone to be given their ‘big break’ too soon if they don’t have the tools or the support to make it count. I personally feel it’s best to try this method with internal projects, that way, in case your best intentions to help someone grow blows up in your face, at least it doesn’t become client impacting. It is also a good idea to request extra reporting or status updates to ensure things are going to plan.
Let’s not overlook the importance of proper delegation. It is important that no one person on your team gets pigeon holed into doing all the excel work for example and that no one person gets the lion’s share of the project. That is not proper team etiquette. Everyone must share the load of the project and be equally responsible for tasks delegated to them. That is not to say that others could not benefit from the expertise of some members on your team. Why not have others who are weak in certain areas work with ones who are strong so that everyone is learning and improving on their skill set?
At the end of the day, you can only keep staff so long as they want to be there and do the job you have for them. Your job as a manager, among other things, is to ensure they produce good work and help achieve your goals. No one likes to do a job that they are not good at regardless whether they are doing it for 10 min or 10 months. Ensuring your team works as a team and are being employed to their capabilities will make sure that your staff are functioning as a team and utilizing their strong suits. Who doesn’t like succeeding at something they are good at?