trU Tips 9: There is no ‘I’ in team – When and why this is wrong

This is a reprint of the monthly publication called trU Tips – Strategic People Reminders for the busy executive.  To subscribe to receive a monthly trU Tips, click here.

What I’m hearing

Forming teams is not a new concept. It can be, however, a new experience for many entrepreneurial organizations entering their next phase of growth, and for industries such as financial services.  Teams can help raise revenue, keep relationships connected with service, and reduce the risk of having one person dictate the success of the organization.  While the process of team building is simple, doing it effectively is a bigger challenge when the people being asked to join a team are successful largely because of their individual drives.  
 

What it means

“There is no ‘I’ in team.”  Great slogan, but it’s wrong.  When bringing people together who have been successful largely because of their personal drives to succeed, there has to be room for “I” somewhere, or the team won’t work.  It’s unrealistic to ask someone — a top sales person, a driving entrepreneur, a teacher — who has basically worked independently for the first decade of his or her career to change overnight and become a great team member.  Bringing independent-minded people together requires an open and honest conversation focused on defining both individual needs and team goals, then deciding if a balance can be achieved.
 
Building trust is the basic component of performance.  In my experience, trust comes before the other three pieces in a four-step process I call trUPerformance: build trust, build focus, build confidence and build rhythm.  While the last three parts are essential for a great, high-functioning team, trust is the key. Allowing people to process through their individual needs, as well as those of the team as a whole, will promote an understanding of how the team can meet its overall goals while allowing its members to have their own needs met.  In the end, individuals might decide that being part of a team won’t work for them.  Sharing truth allows for good choices to be made.  
 

What you should do

The key in all of this is having a series of conversations with potential team members to identify:
 

  1. A list of what they bring to the team, including strengths and weaknesses
  2. A list of things they want or need from the team
  3. A list of personal reasons for joining the team, including what they see as the group’s goals or potential

Process these pieces by sharing openly, identifying common themes in both individual needs and team goals. Challenge people to identify needs that are purely “Me” goals (e.g., keeping one’s top 20 clients) and those that are “We” goals that benefit the entire team (e.g., offering a more complete service solution to customers).  By systematically going through these conversations, it will become evident whether or not potential team members are compatible, and whether joining the team is the right move for an individual.
 
Need a partner in effectively forming a team that will have a huge impact on your business?  Contact me.   Scott@thetrugroup.com