Developing your Team

blog: making the time to develop your people

One of the challenges for any leader, especially in organisations that bill by the hour, is finding or making the time to develop your people and build the founding pillars of a strong team – understanding, respect and trust.

“This can’t always take top priority and usually slips away with time.” Nicolette Shearer, the Business Operations Director of Ciena

Team building events are a good way of doing this, but often seen as a nice thing to do, but when they don’t happen leaders quickly realise that they are a must do to run a business successfully. Nicolette from Ciena shared why she understands all too well how important it is to pro-actively take measures and time to deepen the relationships in the teams that she has managed, as she shared with our CEO, Richard when he interviewed her recently…

Nicolette has found that building the foundational elements of a team is critical to establishing a sense of safety and trust, which in turn promotes teamwork and productivity. Also, when the connections within a team are developed beyond purely a transactional working relationship, that’s when the bonds are truly strengthened and trust is established.

She has seen this play out when the going gets tough at work and her people have been more prepared to be vulnerable and admit things (mistakes, troubles, concerns…) and that this sense of honesty and commitment to a higher purpose (to the team) promotes the greatest sense of team spirit. This has only been possible by growing the social connections between team members, which is even more important with hybrid working models and people working from home.

Certainly after-work drinks help foster this community spirit as do teas, lunches and team meetings, but only to a point and certainly not on their own.

The real traction has come when they have run team events that are not about work and where the focus is on a shared purpose like helping a third party (eg charity), such as with the Team Building with Purpose events she has done with Habitat for Humanity Australia ‘Tomorrow Builders’ and Te-Kworo Foundation ‘Community Restorers’.

“Made it much easier to know how to approach someone by helping to break down (the ice) things.” Nicolette Shearer, the Business Operations Director of Ciena

These events have enabled Nicolette’s people to find out more about their colleagues and make their relationships deeper, more personal and multi-dimensional. This happened because judgement was suspended in the team building session and new connections and understanding was forged, which served to encourage personal shares by her team members. This normalised everyone and took each person off a work pedestal and make them human, which fostered the levels of trust and respect within her team and matured the team bonds.

Nicolette’s final statement is a clear message to all leaders:

“Do prioritise it (team building), invest in it and build it in your plans. Make a commitment to it so it’s part of your future objectives as this should not be just tick a box after-thought activity.”

This is precisely what leaders at companies like BOC, Cisco, Coca Cola, Dior, Mimecast and Pfizer have done and the happy faces on their people in the pictures in this article are testament to the importance and value of putting time aside to develop your team.

Besides the immediate and visible benefits on the day, the real evidence of the value of investing in developing your team can be seen in the longer-term on the balance sheet and from the feedback you receive from your customers.

That’s Team Building with Purpose.

To find out what’s possible for your team, give us a call on 1300 880 487.