Great managers and coaches in sports become Hollywood film worthy. Consider Herbert Paul Brooks Jr, the hockey coach of the 1980 gold-medal winning team; Coach Carter’s no-nonsense approach to getting kids to succeed on the court and in the classroom; and Jim White, the cross-country coach in McFarland, tapping into his community’s talents. All these stories made great movies. They are also great models of leadership and how the best coaches develop talented teams.
A high-performing team collectively possesses the skills to match the requirements of the objectives and goals of the organization. Jim Collins says, “Get the right people on the bus, get the wrong people off the bus, and put the right people in the right place in the bus.”
What does that mean? One, an organization and management must hire well. Too often, the wrong people board the bus.
Then, the burden of team development lies in the hands of managers. Great managers must have talent development at the core of their management strategy. They must have the capacity to find opportunities to give collaborators stretch tasks and assignments. Great leaders know each collaborator’s personal and professional goals.
Great managers, then, must be every organization's priority. The organization must have systems in place (funding with meat in it) to provide development opportunities for managers and collaborators.
Here are some management tips to improve employee engagement with team building, strategy, and providing opportunities for collaborators to grow and succeed:
1. Be a constant learner. Act as a role model. Admit when you don’t know something. Ask for help. Take classes, workshops, assist conferences, and subscribe to the right journals and periodicals.
2. Create individual performance and development plans with your employees. The more personalized, the more relevant.
3. Identify skill requirements of the team.
4. Take a skills inventory. Once you’ve identified skill requirements, find out what is missing or needs improvement with both the team and individual team members.
5. Prioritize training. Not ALL team members should go to the same training because not all team members have to be good at everything. And, perhaps, not all team members need it.
6. Systemize team development. Development takes place every day at work. Leverage problems as opportunities for real-world learning. Assign stretch tasks to team members, according to their career goals and work profile. Create cross-departmental teams so they can learn from each other. Assign someone a high-impact task – one that doesn’t rely heavily on other team members in order to be successful. Throughout this systemization, there should be constant feedback and communication.
7. Get outside help. Do you, or your organization, need to outsource training? A budget for these times to build skills in the team.
Talented teams have great stick-factor. This means talented teams improve employee retention as well as attract new talent. Like Coach Brooks’ classic line in Miracle, “I’m not looking for the best players ... I’m looking for the right ones.”
And if you don’t have the “right ones”, develop them! Start 2022 off with strategic team building that focuses on talent development and watch your teams, and organization, succeed.