Build it and they will come

Team building and getting the best out of your team remain subjects close to the heart of business leaders. Robin Fielder, leadership training specialist and MD of LDL, Leadership Development Ltd, shares how you can encourage your team to develop their existing skills and increase motivation within the workplace

“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future.” What a fantastic quote. It’s from the educator Eric Hoffer and it is so applicable in today’s fast-moving business environment because, in order to compete in today’s competitive marketplace, businesses need to get the very best from their people.

Motivation and inspiration is what leadership is all about – it’s how, as managers and leaders, we encourage our people to develop their skill set and engage with their roles.

Here are three tips to get you started.

  1. Equality of conversational turn-taking

Perhaps the single biggest step forward in understanding how to build an effective team in recent years comes from Google’s Aristotle Project. Google researchers – who should know a thing or two about data analysis – were looking for the single biggest reason that causes a team to gel. They found it was not the mix of personality types, skills or backgrounds of a group, or whether team members were friends away from work. The key factor was, instead, ‘equality of conversational turn-taking’.

This is something that anyone can do in their next meeting: spread out ‘talking time’ within the group and make sure everyone contributes. The result is a better team dynamic which fosters collaboration and engagement with the task at hand.

  1. Catch people doing something right, or almost right

Part of every manager’s job is to highlight what is unsatisfactory in a person’s work and help them to fix it. But feedback must also be fair, and if the only news we get is bad news we have trouble believing that any aspect of what we do is acceptable. No-one wants to work with a manager who is constantly finding fault so catch people doing something right, or almost right. It builds confidence. This is especially important when someone is new or learning a new job.

  1. Praise the things people have control over
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When you do catch someone doing something right it is important that you give praise in the right way – in a way that stimulates what Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck calls the ‘growth mindset’.

This means praising the things that people have control over – effort, commitment, loving a challenge – rather than things like talent or natural ability. Nourish the belief that, with sufficient determination and grit, they will succeed.

People perform at their best when they believe in themselves. This is true of sports teams, the performing arts and the people who work for you. Anything you can do to inspire those around you to believe in themselves will encourage them to develop their skill set and reach higher levels of performance.