Top-Shelf Tip No. 234:

"Individual commitment to a group effort— that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."

Vince Lombardi

Smart Ways To Build Team Buy-In

My boss recently asked me to create a pilot campaign at work. As she explained her expectations for the project, the wheels started turning in my head, and I had a very clear sense of what was expected of me. But there was a catch-she wanted me to lead a team of 10 people on this project.

As I started working on the project, I realized that I had to allow for collaboration instead of only doing what I thought was best. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to bring everyone else on board and getting them to have a sense of personal ownership in the project. This caused so much time and stress on a project that I could've just knocked out by myself.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we will share strategies from Scott Thompson, the author of nine books, on how to bring others along to contribute to a team effort.

1. Encourage ownership. Team members will contribute more and work harder on a project if they feel a sense of ownership in its success or failure. Communicate openly and honestly so team members understand just as much about the project as you do. Don't hold back information about expected difficulties or any aspect of the task. When problems or roadblocks arise, call on the whole team to help you solve the difficulty. Give them the freedom to experiment with different solutions. If you try to control the project from the top down, your team members may see the project as yours rather than theirs. Give participants a chance to display their talents and ideas, and they'll be motivated to make the project a success.

2. Give everyone a chance to speak. Everyone's personality traits are different. Some people are shy and quiet. An assertive and confident person doesn't necessarily have better ideas than a shy and quiet person, but assertive people are a lot more boisterous, and therefore, more likely to be heard and to have their ideas acted upon. To get the best out of your quieter team members, structure your meetings so everyone has an equal opportunity to speak. Give people time to fully articulate their ideas. Try to assess each suggestion as objectively as possible based on the idea itself and not the personality of the team member proposing it. If you don't like a suggestion or choose not to make use of it, don't criticize it too severely. Instead, thank every employee for their unique input, whether their suggestions are taken, or not.

3. Make everyone a leader. Create a team of leaders by using a collaborative rather than a hierarchical model. In a hierarchical structure, only one person leads at each level of the organization. In a collaborative structure, every member of the team has a leadership role in some part of the project. Assign personal responsibility for some aspect of the project based on each team member's strengths and talents. This will also provide each team member with an added sense of responsibility and accountability.

4. Set a good example. Model the behaviors you expect from your team members. Enthusiastically contribute to all aspects of the project. Keep your attitude positive and your motivation high. Negative comments from the top can damage morale and decrease motivation. Contribute new ideas and solutions, listen to the ideas and suggestions of your team members and make it clear that you're always available to help work through any problems. Use praise more than criticism and leave room for relaxation and fun. Team members look to the project manager to set the tone for the entire project, so your words and actions need to contribute to the project's success.

Source: Scott Thompson has been writing professionally since 1990, beginning with the Pequawket Valley News. He is the author of nine published books on topics such as history, martial arts, poetry and fantasy fiction.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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