by Joanne Leitschuh
What is the most important part in being a member of a team? Playing by the rules, right? Well, since I am part of our wholesale jewellery team, I first need to know what these "rules" are. Manning and Haddock's book, Office Management, describes the seven basic rules of team leaders:
Rule 1: Make sure goals are clearly communicated and understood.
Rule 2: Provide opportunities to meet and exchange ideas with team members.
Rule 3: Treat employees with equal respect and give each an opportunity to make a personal contribution to the outcome.
Rule 4: Set a good example by supporting company policies and procedures.
Rule 5: Act consistently and positively.
Rule 6: Stay calm under pressure.
Rule 7: Keep all promises made to team members.
I know one of the most important responsibilities I have as a team leader is to keep members informed. We all need to know what our goals are, what the plan is and who are involved. This will lead to less confusion and duplication of effort. We are all busy professionals--who wants to waste time?
I think the fun part of planning goals is reviewing all the options. As we talk together, each member has something to contribute regarding market targets, materials needed, deadlines, and financial and professional resources. For example, several months ago, one of our sales representatives thought it would increase our sales if we took on the Paddington Bear license for jewellery. Each of us did research on whether this would be a good line to develop. We decided to create a small collection to be introduced at the International Autumn Gift Fair. One can imagine all of the team-work needed to produce jewellery samples, packaging, costing, display materials and advertisements to ensure that this line would be a success.
Having the right people for the right job is crucial. Different skills are needed for different parts of a project. If someone can't achieve a planned goal, what do you do? This is where it is good to have someone who "sees the big picture" as well as the details. Recognizing that a part of the plan needs assistance in order to meet the desired goal is the manager's job--how can this little problem be corrected before it undermines the whole project?
There will always be problems that arise in any project, but it's the "how do we react" issue that will determine the success of not only the goal, but the success of team interaction. I need to trust that each team member will do their job--and they need to trust me. I can gain their trust by setting a good example, acting consistently and positively, staying calm under pressure and by keeping my promises--no matter what may happen!
There are many other books available about how to effectively work with people and how to reach business goals. Even so-called "Christian Principles" can emphasize a list of do's and don'ts. Finally, they are all telling you how to do things that don't come too naturally to selfish people. However, the people I work with know that lasting motivation, understanding and trust can only come from a changed heart. A heart that Jesus gives us if we want it. A heart that sees our own shortcomings. A heart that knows how to speak, to listen, to initiate, to carry-through. Ironically, there is strength in a group of people whose hearts are soft. The first "rule" on a Team Leader's list should really be, "Rule 1: Pray that myself and each member can be able to hear the quiet and directive voice of the One who wants to live again."
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