The Advantage of creating a powerful design, engineering and/or manufacturing team

The Advantage
“You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.”~Jim Rohn

If you are a leader; it’s your responsibility to help get the best out of your team. If you aren’t a leader, but consider yourself a team player; it’s your responsibility to help get the best out of your team. The end goal is the same, so stop looking at someone else to pick up the slack. You are in the driver seat, and you can be the driving force for how your team success.

Imagine two teams.

The first is full of team members who are open with one another, passionately debate important issues, and commit to clear decisions even if they highly disagree. They call each other out when needed, always trying to help each other out, and focus their attention and energy on the good for the organization.

The second is a random group of people who are guarded and less then honest with one another. They hold back during difficult conversations, and hesitate to call one another on unproductive behaviors. Often they pursue their own agendas rather than those of the greater organisation.

The question: What kind of advantage would the first team have over the second, and how much time and energy would it be worth investing to make this advantage a reality?

It doesn’t matter if you are part of a design team surrounded by the latest hip furniture, colors and Macintosh, or if this is a shop floor, blue collar, CNC cutting oil crew.
Building a great team takes the same steps.

Collectively Responsible
When being part of a team it is normal that not everyone is at the same level. Some have more experience because they have done the job longer, some of the team members might even get paid more, but it is important that everyone understand that everyone do carry part of the load. If you do not bring something to the team, even just an opinion, you might not belong there.

Common Objective
It’s not only important to get the team together, it is also important to get everyone looking in the same direction. Your help to the team can be as simple as asking “What is the end goal look like? What should be considered? And what is the steps to get there?”. That question can help the team figuring out how to make the next design project come within budget, or lead the next shipment of parts being delivered on time.

Building trust
Don’t you hate sitting in a room where you feel someone has their own agenda? It’s important to understand that when trust is questioned, vulnerability is many times the factor. The absolute first step is to put yourself in their shoe’s. If you were that person, would you have concerns? For a team to build trust it is essential that the team gets to a point where things like “I screwed up,” “I need help,” “Your idea is better than mine,” “I’m confused,” and even “I’m sorry,” can be said. Consider it might be in your best interest to lead in this category.

Achieving commitment
As a team leader it is pretty clear that one of your objective is to get commitment from your team. But, even just as a team member it’s critical that you not only are open to give your commitment, but also seek commitment from others. Sometimes when tasks are at hand that you do not want to do, remembering your commitment to be committed to the team might be the signal to role up your sleeves and get things done.

Conclusion
There can be no question of the advantage of a strong team, but creating such a team is like a marriage, it takes constant effort from everyone involved. If there is a starting point, I would recommend the 6 critical questions from Patrick Lencioni’s book “The Advantage”.
1. Why do we exist?
2. How do we behave?
3. What do we do?
4. How will we succeed?
5. What is most important, right now?
6. Who must do what?

I challenge you, I challenge myself, let’s take “the advantage” and make better teams!

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