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Part I: Expectations to Create A Winning Team

By July 1, 2021August 5th, 2021No Comments

by Jim Steinlage, President & CEO of Choice Solutions

Today’s organizations building their dream teams want self-directed workers who are team players. Team members want a work-life balance that brings fulfillment, in an organization where they are more than a statistical performance number.  Of course, it is much more complex than that, but when both sides’ needs do not find common ground, everyone loses workers, management, and the business itself. Here is my list of characteristics needed from both leaders and individual contributors on my dream team.

Organization expectation from Team

What organizations should look for in team members should go beyond pure academic qualifications and work experience to include soft skills and characteristics that differentiate exceptional talent from good or mediocre talent. Finding this type of well-rounded talent can be difficult, and even candidates agree that they have not been adequately educated and prepared for their potential organizations expectations.

Here is my wish list of the most desirable soft skills that organizations should look for to build  high-performance teams:

  • Strong Values – all of the other desirable skills do not matter without a foundation of trust, honesty, humility, and loyalty.
  • Listening Skills – one of the easiest skills to overlook is being a good listener and attention to detail. Good detail listeners are more likely to understand tasks, build strong relationships, and quickly solve problems.
  • Taking Initiative – you are looking for team members who have the motivation to accomplish tasks on their own, are highly valued and considered potential leadership candidates, especially as remote work continues to be a large part of the way we work.  Leadership wants workers who are ready, able, and willing to get things done without constant supervision. It is something we call the “Farmer’s Mentality” at our company.
  • A Positive Attitude – a positive mindset can be more valuable than knowledge or talent. Positive people tend to be more curious, creative, and team-focused. Their attitudes are contagious and can improve workplace culture. They also tend to look for new ways to get things done, which increases productivity levels.  Instead of saying, “We can’t do this,” they use their creativity and innovation to find a way to do it.
  • Energetic Spirit – workers with an entrepreneurial mindset view challenges as opportunities not roadblocks. They are skilled at anticipating changes in the workplace and can quickly pivot to new approaches when necessary. They embrace change and do not resist it.
  • Results-Oriented – like those who are positive and energetic, team members who focus on results excel at succeeding no matter the obstacles. They do the research, try multiple approaches, accept failure as learning, never give up, and deliver value.
  • Team-Player – great team members desire the camaraderie to be part of a constructive team working together. Organizations appreciate workers who show a willingness to collaborate with others to accomplish goals and celebrate wins together as a commitment to the organization’s mission.
  • Dependable – doing what you say you will do reflects a readiness to take responsibility for one’s behaviors and actions. An “I Own It” reliability attitude is cherished by leadership. Responsible and consistent workers tend to value their jobs and strive for peak performance
  • Interested in Learning continuous learning leads to greater contribution, organization, and customer satisfaction on the job. Training programs, certifications, advanced degrees, mentorship, and industry seminars make team members more valuable and prepares them for leadership roles.

Many organizations feel academic qualifications and work experience can be easily found, but the right combination of personal characteristics and skills that help their organizations grow and increase revenue is hard to find.

What Workers Want at Work

In a highly competitive job market, organizations must offer far more than  good salaries, benefits, and workplace perks. To attract and retain top talent, you need to find out what workers value most. Great organizations will not thrive unless their workers are happy and prospering in ways beyond financially.

Here is expectations from workers across all generations and all cultures to keep your team performing at the top of their game:

A Work-Life Balance – the pandemic accelerated the need for organizations to address work-life balance. The new work-life reality has blurred the lines between work and home, where workers are increasingly working from home and are overwhelmingly stressed with work and home responsibilities. Even before the current health crisis, the blended work-life world was becoming more complex. Workers want their organizations to acknowledge how difficult the adjustment has been and find ways to empathize with them on these new challenges.

Clear Expectations – this new workplace paradigm seems flashy but is now tarnishing with only about 1/3 of workers feeling engaged in their workplace and over half looking for better employment opportunities. If workers do not receive clear communication and understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and goals, they are likely dissatisfied.. It is challenging for both organizations and when working remote to not feel detached. Nothing replaces eye contact while sitting together laughing, “High- Fiving” and being able to physically observe body language and tone in a conference room as expectations are communicated, but as the workplace continues to change, leadership has to continue to learn how to set clear expectations in both face-to-face and remote environments.

Recognition and Praise – in remote and hybrid workforces it is even more important for organizations to recognize great work and achievements. There is nothing better for performance, engagement, and productivity than praise and recognition. Praise is something everyone craves and when people feel their efforts are appreciated, it pushes them to continue to perform at a high level. For some it is something they starve for since they were children.

Transparency – team members are not expecting to be informed about everything in organizations’ plans, but it is important to share and participate in companies Wildly Important Goals (WIG’s) and the progress the company is making in achieving them.  These WIG’s should impact both the organization’s performance as well as the personal development of team members. Regular meetings, one-on-ones, and video conferences where both sides discuss ideas on how they can impact these WIG’s are important.

Personal and Professional Growth – team members want opportunities to develop their skills and expand their capabilities to further their careers and advance in the company. Some organizations fear that by providing training to team members, they risk those workers leaving the company to advance their careers elsewhere.  It is much worse to have untrained people stay than to have skilled and happy people serving your organization’s customers.

Feedback – team members want to know how they are doing in the organization.  One-on-one meetings between team members and their direct coaches are vital for organizations to be successful, to keep talented team members and to redirect those whose performance may have gotten offtrack.  Leaders can identify potential red flags in these meetings and address them before they become larger issues.  Feedback is one of the things craved most by Gen Z and organizations should be astute to this as this new generation starts their careers.

Trust – empowering team members to control their workspaces and giving them workplace freedom increases job satisfaction, creativity, motivation, and positive attitudes. Organizations will have to balance workplace freedom and security.

Responsibility – team members want their organizations to empower them with more responsibility and an ownership mentality. They feel vested and much more motivated when there is trust in their abilities. They want organizations who listen to their ideas and let them think with an ownership mindset.

Respect – respect is not the same as recognition. Recognition acknowledges a job well done, but respect tells someone they are valued as a person. Respect is a mandatory value to have in a great, productive culture.

Soundness – team members want predictability, stability, and an organization who lives by always doing the right thing both morally and financially.

The rewards for providing team members with fulfilling these needs from a job are tremendous:

  • Increased worker engagement and productivity.
  • Reduced turnover and increased talent referrals.
  • Better team member collaboration and communication.
  • Improved working morale and commitment.
  • Better customer experiences, resulting in customer referrals.

One of the best ways to understand your team members desires and needs is through discussion and then negotiating to “Win-Win.” I will discuss this in more detail in my next blog.

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