Team Building

Negativity as Tactic

Negativity is something that most people say they don't like. Negativity is also incredibly common. Why? 

Well, being negative is easy. Being negative means that you simply say no to what everyone else is working towards and proposing without adding anything to the equation. Being negative and focusing on the fearful is the quickest way to place yourself in the limelight without actually having substance behind your voice.

Everyone wants to sound like the smartest person in the room, from politicians running for the Presidency to your coworker whose gunning for that promotion. Behaving negatively means that one can sound smart and cautious when other ask people to look to the future and build. This is incredibly common in group settings and it's something a true leader and forward thinker avoids.

Where others focus on the downside, it's your job to build the upside and create positive alternatives and futures to whatever dilemma you and your comrades are facing.   

If you're working on a project and a team member seems to only ever list catastrophic problems that could potentially maybe one day possibly happen, take a step back before getting annoyed. Remember that this team member might have a few good, constructive points hidden in the negativity and you can find them by asking probing questions. Pull away the hysteria by asking them to quanitfy and specify their predictions of doom. Soon you'll find that what was impossible a few moments earlier was actually a comment on a weaker aspect of the project you're building together.

Doom and gloom is easy, constructive criticism and vision are hard. Be your best self and lead your colleagues away from negative excuses to positive events.

Team Building and the Three C's

I attended the ICOVA (Illinois Conference of Volunteer Administrators) event this past August, which was a very interesting day full of conversation about recruitment and retention of volunteers. By far my favorite part of the day was the keynote speech by Rev. Fred Nettles, which touched on team building for any organization. 

Nettles, both a Reverend and secular non-profit administrator, was a great speaker (both content and charisma wise!) His talk covered a range of topics about volunteerism in general, but specifically delved into his thoughts on building an effective team in any organization.

Nettles shared his "Three C Rule for Building Teams" with the ICOVA attendees, detailing the importance of:

  1. Character: Compatibility of the organization's culture and mission with the potential team member's integrity.
  2. Competency: Positioning the team member for success and investing in good work through training and professional development.
  3. Charisma: Team members that get along!

Finding a group of people who can work together, feel inspired together and enjoy their time together is a pretty difficult task, but every organizational leader is asked to do it every day. While a lot of the time, a leader isn't given the option of building their own team -- they inherit people who may or may not fit into the leader's ideal organizational vision -- that doesn't mean managers and leaders can't build a team using Nettles' "Three C's."

If you can't change the team, it's important to clearly change the culture of the organization for your team. Create easily shared and spotted physical artifacts that represent the culture you want to create in your organization. If your company is all about integrity, share stories of employees who showed integrity via social media, intranets and blogs. Honor those people or highlight those actions you want others to imitate through specific and branded actions.

As for competency, make sure you know what people are best suited to do in your organization and help them grow and develop professionally when possible. Take stock of your needs and your assets!

Lastly, if your team doesn't get along try to understand why before you take any actions. If you have a real jerk in your organization, they may be enough of a Debbie Downer to prevent everyone else from feeling happy or successful. They may also be a key player in the organization that you don't want to let go. The trick here is making everyone feel heard and adjusting the team dynamics so the Debbie Downer isn't hurting the productivty and morale of everyone else on the team. You could do this by giving them a lateral promotion that moves them out of constant contact with the team or by asking them to adjust their behavior. Or you can do both or neither!

Above all, the Three C's are powerful because they give a leader a jumping off point. They aren't the end all and be all, but they are a simple and easy way to build your team, either through hiring people or through developing your most prized assets (your current employees!).