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Build an atmosphere where team members share everything

May 1, 2017

I recently read a story about a person who was upset that their child was “expected” to share toys with other children at a playground. One of her points was that people don’t share items at work (such as pens), so why teach kids to grow up thinking sharing is the norm. I couldn’t disagree with this point of view more. Sharing is not only a general practice in the workforce, but an essential tool to building great teams.

The best teams share everything; pens, responsibilities, tactics… anything that helps the team succeed. While there are certainly personal ambitions amongst the team members, they likely recognize that when the team succeeds, they all do. Hording success and growing by standing on the backs of team member’s leads to isolationism, and inevitably, failure within the group. The more team members care about each other’s success, the more efficient they become.

The teams you’ve built in your business need to function with this same attitude; it can’t just be about individual success. The question, then, becomes whether you need to separate the desire for personal growth from the group mentality. Here’s a thought on how to accomplish both.

To start, you must recognize that most employees are working, first and foremost, for their personal bottom line. If the money goes away, so do they. Therefore, you have to create an atmosphere where people trust that their individual accomplishments are directly tied to group achievements.

For example, never call out individual team member accomplishments to people outside of the team. The perception should be that each member is as important as the other, so don’t make it about one person individually; unless you’re going to talk about everyone’s accomplishments. Also, individual rewards should primarily (but not entirely) be based on the success of the team. Again, this helps build the team-first mentality, as the team success could affect their personal bottom line.

Next, build a plan that allows personal ambitions to be tied to the success of the team. For example, some people are driven to be managers, while others have no desire to be in charge. Whenever projects come up, alternate who takes the reigns. Watch your team’s progress under individual leadership and build individual plans for each team member. Make sure, however, that the theme for all projects is team unity; working together, and sharing responsibilities to reach a common goal.

Your objective here is to identify the responsibilities and skill sets that appeal to each team member individually, then to use that information to place each person in a position to succeed on the team. If one is a born leader, while another is a skilled designer, put them in roles that can best use their natural talents. The benefit here is that while the team gains efficiency, each individual grows in their own right; so it’s a win-win for both the team and its members.

Remember, sharing is not only caring, but a strategy for both individual and team success.

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