How can I build my team?

By Allison Liddle

When I was 25 years old I lead a team of people twice my age. If you've ever met me, you know that I was excited about this prospect. I was all, "This is going to be awesome. I get to lead people twice my age. Wooohoooo!" Then I started calling all of the people that I was supposed to call to invite them to our first real meeting. The first couple of calls went okay. I think it was on about the third call that I had the first "not so nice" person answer the phone and proceed to tell me my meeting was stupid, I was stupid, and then swear at me. *Did I mention my group was helping vulnerable young children? Yeah, so I was all like. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU CRAZY MAN?

I did not say this, but I surely thought it.

I thanked him for his time and input and then I went to my friend Donna and said, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS CRAZY MAN?"

Apparently he was not a team player. He liked to do everything himself and by me creating a group to help children I was threatening his program funds.

Teams are an interesting thing. You have something you needs to get done. You can't do it all by yourself. Now you decide to create a team. This team needs to have all different types of people. These people probably have never, ever worked with each other before. After a couple of meetings you're thinking....oh my gosh, what is happening? These people will never work well together. We'll never get our job accomplished. What can I do? If you've never had this experience, then good for you...or you're lying. HA! Or you're one of those "leaders" that says you have a team, but you actually do all of the work and pretend your team is doing it.

Here are some tips I've learned from leading and being on many teams.

  1. PREPARE FOR YOUR MEETING: I can't tell you how many meetings I've been to where it seems like the person organizing the meeting completely forgot there was a meeting. I'd come back to the next meeting for this group and the same thing would happen. No agenda, no minutes, not enough chairs, technology not working, forgot to order lunch, etc.... If you are not a very organized person find someone else to help you prepare for the meetings. How to run an awesome meeting: prepare an agenda, have someone take minutes to record what was discussed (otherwise you'll keep talking about the same things over and over again), have a clear start and stop time, prepare enough materials, and bring food or drinks if the meeting will be at a lunch or dinner time.

  2. MAKE YOUR TEAM FEEL COMFORTABLE: Recognize that this team of people has never done this before. They are probably feeling anxious about doing whatever it is that you've asked them to do. Ideas: have music playing when they enter the room, do an ice breaker (yes, I've even done this with state works), say "hello" when they enter the room.

  3. INTRODUCTIONS ARE A MUST: At the start of the meeting. Introduce yourself, state the purpose of the meeting, and then ask your team to introduce themselves. I typically have people answer a silly question like, "what was your favorite cereal as a kid?" *Mine was Lucky Charms.

  4. CREATE NORMS: Have you ever been at a meeting and had the long talker take over the whole meeting? Then you didn't really get anything done? Ugh. That is so frustrating. The first thing you need to do with your new team is create Meeting Norms. This may seem elementary, but without a set of norms you'll quickly notice that the adults Ask the team, what are going to be our meeting norms or set of understandings each time we meet? *Ideas: put your phone on vibrate, happy & kind team members only, pay attention, no long talkers, be kind, stay on topic, be helpful

  5. HAVE FUN & GET TO KNOW THEM: Do you like to work with your friends? Yes. So, take the time to create relationships with your teams. Find fun activities to do together. Take the time to go get coffee with each of them. Ask them questions about their life. Connect with them as people.

  6. SHOW APPRECIATION: When was the last time you sent a special handwritten note to your team members? Hint: do it right now! Seriously, take the time to show appreciation for everything they are doing to add value to your business or organization. I think too many of us think that if someone is working for us they 'have to' be there. There are many jobs out there. People have choices of where they spend their time and energy. By taking the time to show your appreciation and understanding of the value they add to the group, you'll be amazed by the culture change of the team.

Make today amazing!


Allison Liddle