There is no “I” in team, but remember the “me”

I am sure a lot of us have experienced it. It could be a performance review, a team meeting or even the CEO giving a state of the nation. “Times are tough, we all need to work together to get the outcome for the company.” You ask a question along the lines of “I am still alright to leave a little early on Thursdays for my kids dance class?”, or “will the weekend work still be needed?”. The response that you receive is “Remember there is no I in team.”

What can you say to that?

What is being implied is that you should be putting the needs of your team, including the company you work for, ahead of your personal goals. And as most people want to be a team player. So, we go off and work for the team without actually receiving an answer to our question.

This is a bad situation.

It is one I have been part of. Going back to my desk and put in the hard yards for the team; happy to put in the personal sacrifices for the team. On reflection, it tended to occur where the working environment was one where employees were considered as expendable. Plus, most people were too busy to help anyone else. So the message sent is to be a team player you need to work hard to make sure the work gets done.

So, what happens to “me”?

A good corporate culture requires alignment of corporate and individual goals. How can you do this without knowing what the individual wants? Without the “me”?

How do you find out what individuals want?

You need to talk to those you are leading and listen to what is important to them. There might be things that are achievable, and some that are not. It will mean giving some truths to employees which they might not want to hear. But it will provide clarity to employees about what you can offer. This could be flexible hours, an in-house gym, opportunity to travel, or simply recognition for their work. It comes down to what the individual values.

How do you use what you can offer as the carrot?

You need to make it clear what you expect, through providing clarity in their job as part of the team. Then back this up by trusting them to do their job, while holding them accountable for the bad and the good. That way they feel their contribution to the team influences their individual outcome.

Your job as the leader is to divide the required tasks to the members of the team. If you make a mistake in the task allocation, you need to hold yourself accountable as you would your staff.

It also means when your boss criticises your team’s output, that is on you as the leader.

You still need to hold your team to account, but only in respect of what you asked for. If it is how the parts came together, that is on you as leader as that is your role in the team. By only passing on the feedback that applies to the individual, you are then supporting your team by taking your share of the accountability.

All of a sudden you and your team are all in it together.

Now your team has clarity on what they can achieve as individuals, a clear path for their success and the knowledge that we are all in it together. At this point the team starts supporting itself. They see the direction for the team as part of the pathway for their success. Plus, they trust you will recognise those who contribute to the team’s success.

This is when the magic begins to happen.

As accountability is clear, members of the team start helping others succeed! Why? Because they understand that if the team succeeds, so do they. And for the team to succeed so does each member of the team. They aren’t trying to steal someone’s job, or take their kudos; they are genuinely helping. If someone is sick, people help out without having to be asked.

Trust starts to sprout.

Everyone knows their role and feel secure in the team, they are more willing to offer trust to other team members. This strengthens the team further and helps ideas flourish.

So as a leader, what is in it for me?

By listening, giving honest feedback and accountability you have created this amazing team. Staff feel engaged and rewarded, and quite often are actually wanting to go to work. Isn’t that what being a great leader is all about? Isn’t this what allows you as a leader to achieve whatever your measure of success is?

So whenever you are wanting to create a great team, it is important to remember:

There is no “I” in team, but always remember the “me”.

Justin Hogg is an Accountant and CFO for Businesses, Founders and Entrepreneurs. He manages the numbers so that you don’t have to. He offers an initial complimentary 30 minutes session to see if he can help you with your finance or accounting teams.

To arrange an initial, complimentary discussion, email or call 0414 896 696.

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