Here’s a cliché for you!
Team works make the dream work!
Well, despite the corniness of that statement, it is absolutely true. If we cannot get good teamwork established, then all the efforts of the management team to achieve goals is futile.
Let me also be clear. Great teamwork does not necessarily mean that we all have to be best friends, connected on Facebook, do weekly BBQ gatherings or hang out after work. It simply means that we need to work well together, and we all have to work towards the same goals.
In the first few months I’ve spent in my new roles, I have been working on the FY20 roadmap, daily/weekly team activities and meeting the stakeholders. That has allowed me to prepare our busy 2020 work schedule, and I’m excited about it.
However, if my team is not committed and not involved, then it all falls apart. Not literally of course, but it is important that my team understands and is able to contribute to these plans. They are essential to delivering these plans.
From the first week I took over the team, I have established weekly department meetings, where I share what I’m working on, the activities day-to-day, and more recently the 2020 goals and plans.
I need my team to see what’s coming and get as excited as I am. It may not be possible to garner the same enthusiasm, but I want them to be part of the journey and part of delivering a rebooted IT department, and new infrastructure.
Some leaders are perhaps more reluctant to share strategic plans with more junior staff, fearing that information might leak and that promises are made outside the organization (IT department) and stakeholder’s expectations are now that certain things will be delivered and provide XX advantages … or that it may upset other departments and disrupt the internal politics.
I do not share everything with my team either. I do not think that is wise and some information is perhaps too sensitive to share, causing angst or confusion within the ranks.
I share what is needed to motivate the team, to provide them with direction and share progress. Too much information might overwhelm, and it can be difficult to evaluate how these projects might interfere with their daily duties. As such, keep the information short and sweet.
Once I have shared the plans, I attempt to provide regular updates, and more importantly, involve team members directly in projects.
If teams get the sense that they are trusted and involved, and can contribute with opinions, then it becomes committed.
At the individual level, each person needs attention and needs to feel valued and involved within the team.
When we kick off projects, I invite team members to participate in the conversation, and also look to them to provide technical inputs. That is the reason we hired them and not for management to overrule all technical approaches as “we know better”.
Believe it or not, management does not know all the technical ins and outs, and we rely on technical staff to provide some clarity and to fight in the bowls of server configuration, and to ensure that we deliver secure applications and services – and that what we set out to do in the project can be realized.
It may push some individuals beyond their comfort zones, but I firmly believe that people will deliver great results if we put some trust in them. It challenges them technically and professionally and takes them away from their daily work routines.
Yes, sometimes we have to go straight to the technical lead within a team to get something fixed immediately. But, when we have opportunities to push others forward, we should as leaders encourage that development.
It does not matter if this is entry-level helpdesk or senior network engineers, we all seek challenges, and we can all resolve and deliver tasks. The task complexity will, of course, vary between roles, as we do not want a 1st level helpdesk to configure network router – it will set that person up to fail.
Each task individual task has to push the team member a little outside their normal technical boundaries and comfort zones, then they will exceed. It has to be interesting and challenging work, although the mundane work will, of course, have to be done too.
What we as management need to accept is that our staff are not us and work differently. They will deliver tasks their way, and will often not complete it the same way we would.
That may challenge management and they might be tempted to intervene. We have to restrain ourselves, and only step in to provide guidance.
Trust, this is difficult for management. We are eager to step in to adjust the approach, seek urgent updates, challenge some findings, but we really need to have the patience to let staff work on the assigned task. We have to provide an open space where they feel they can seek advice and guidance.