Top-Shelf Tip No. 138:

"A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of others."

Norman Shidle

Five Ways To Orchestrate Better Team Relationships

As a leader, you know how to delegate so work gets done on time and on budget. You know how to hire great people with the right skills. However, when it's quiet in the office, don't assume things are working as they should—something might be missing. Maybe your team members seldom interact or maybe they don't come to you for guidance.

Mary Jo Asmus, a former Fortune 100 executive who now runs an executive coaching firm, says that being a good leader isn't just heading up a team of talented people. Your team members want to connect and collaborate and, as a leader, you can help them do this. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Asmus's advice for fostering meaningful work relationships.

1. Step out of your comfort zone. If you want to get to know someone on a personal level, you must step out of your comfort zone. This doesn't mean you have to be best buddies, but it does mean creating a foundation for trust and relationships. People are naturally hard wired for connection, and they want to know you before they can trust you. Sure, things aren't bad, but could they be better if you treated them even more like the valued human beings they are by getting to know a bit about them?

2. Ask questions. Let your team members know that you appreciate them and their ideas by asking thoughtful questions. What do they especially like to do at work? What do they dislike? What new ideas do they have about the organization's work? What do they need from you? What's going well for them? What small improvement in the way you do your work could make the biggest difference?

3. Look for ways to connect differently. Can you take your team offsite or to a retreat that requires you to get to know each other on a deeper level? Asmus recommends keeping it simple and allowing everyone to bring something to the offsite meeting that tells a story about them. You might be surprised at what you learn about each other that can help foster connections.

4. Ask for help with work dilemmas and sticky situations. By doing this, you show that you respect their thoughts. If you do it as a team, the collective ideas can be very innovative and helpful. If done without critiquing the ideas (at least initially), it can be fun and create an atmosphere of openness and inclusion. Asmus encourages leaders to do this regularly and let their team members also bring their own dilemmas and situations to get ideas on how to deal with them.

5. Set an expectation of collaboration. Asmus advises leaders to always look for ways to connect team members on interests that they can work on collaboratively. Ask team members to bring their expertise into projects that their peers are responsible for. You might open some eyes and ears on the work of your organization in a different way.

There are many ways to unite your team and bring individuals together for common goals. By orchestrating better relationships on your team, you can take performance from good to exceptional.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Mary Jo Asmus is a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. She has owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. Asmus partners with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success.

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