Learning On the Lead - Lesson 1

18 Oct 2019

Learning On the Lead – Lesson 1. Leadership Lessons Learnt With Mans Best Friend

Lesson 1 – The team rules need to be understood by the whole team

The addition of our dog Jake to the household has forced us to consider our house rules and what will be tolerated / not tolerated by all members of the family.

  • Would Jake be an inside or outside dog?
  • What rooms will Jake be allowed in?
  • How do we deal with discipline issues with the dog?
  • How do we react when he jumps up on people?
  • What are the rewards for good behaviour?

These questions and a myriad of others have had to be discussed and decisions made regarding the behaviour of our dog and the way that he integrates into the family. To make the rules work they have to work for everyone – not just the ‘master’ or the adults; our children have had to be involved in the decision process (the best intentions in ensuring the dog does not go into bedrooms can be broken down very quickly by a 9-year old wanting to have a new fluffy dog at her feet at bedtime). Every new dog owner knows that despite the best intentions, all of these ideas and rules get pushed and tested with the addition of a dog in the house (chewing shoes and accidents in the house have tested our rules!).

For a good team to function effectively, team members also need to understand the team rules and codes of behaviour. Contrary to an opinion I heard recently, this does not mean a quick look at the values of the business and saying that we should all apply ‘common sense’. Each team is different – just like each family is different. Good teams take the time to discuss what is accepted and appropriate and what is not; from behaviour at meetings, providing feedback to each other, how often you expect feedback from the Manager and when are the best times to get core work completed. Failure to understand what is appropriate for the team causes confusion for all team members, as well as the team leader.

Team members can feel insecure regarding what behaviour is right and wrong, what will be praised and what will be questioned. This is exacerbated for new team members who spend the first few weeks / months trying to work out what is appropriate for different team members, the team manager and the team as a whole.

So how do you address this? Here are 5 simple steps: 

1. Take the time to consider two questions: ‘What do you really appreciate your team members doing?’ And ‘What do your team members do that frustrates and annoys you?’

You may never have considered this question, so it might help with some examples.

My top 3 likes/loves and dislikes:

Like / Love:

  1. Team members that when finished their tasks, ask their peers if they need help and provide it.
  2. Team members that provide options for dealing with problems.
  3. Team members that aren’t afraid to question decisions, but will accept a decision when one is made.

Dislike:

  1. Whingeing about a person / decision without raising the issue with the person.
  2. Being late for meetings and being unprepared for meetings.
  3. Criticising the business or a business unit in front of clients / customers.

My list could go on for quite a bit! But by providing this list to my team, they have a very clear understanding of what I like and what I don’t like. If they question my decisions, I won’t be annoyed. If they are late for team meetings, I probably will be. Your list could be similar or very different; the point is by discussing your likes and dislikes you start a conversation about what is acceptable and not tolerable within the team.

2. Get your team members to consider the same questions and be honest in their answers. You may find that some of the things that you do are appreciated by your team, others things they may find difficult. Most people, once they know your preferences, will try to do what you like and avoid what you don’t. Will you do the same for them?

3. In a team meeting, get all team members to discuss their likes / dislikes. Many people come to meetings like this with very small lists – but they grow as they listen to what others have said and consider the points for themselves. Importantly, all team members must be encouraged to ‘play the ball, not the man’. In other words, discuss behaviour that they like / don’t like, not the people that do it. This process does not need to take hours; in fact, it can be just 10 minutes at the end of a regular meeting.

4. Develop a team charter. There is no point discussing all of these points if it is forgotten a few days later. A team charter reinforces the accepted behaviours within the team.

5. Review and adapt your likes/dislikes whenever a new team member becomes part of your team.

Every one in business knows when a Manager changes, accepted business practises and behaviours change as well. Meeting styles, information flow, communication and management styles all change and require us to adapt. The same applies when a new team member is added to the team.

Applying this process successfully ensures that new team members feel like an important addition to the group, as well as providing them with crucial information regarding appropriate behaviours in their new role.

Imagine not having to guess how to treat your Manager in your first days on the job?

In a recent survey, the ‘relationship with my Manager / Boss’ was stated as the reason why 57% of people changed jobs and roles. Understanding your team rules, understanding your Managers expectations and what people like and dislike in the workplace can have a dramatic impact on not only the harmony of your team, but their retention as well.

Question: Do you understand what behaviours you like and don’t like in you team? Does your team know? Have you told new team members what behaviours are positive and negative? Consider applying the steps above for an effective and harmonious team.

Leadership Paws 1 of 21 Leadership Lessons Learnt with my Dog

The other lessons are:

  1. Everyone Needs to Know the Rules.
  2. You need to protect your team from outside forces.
  3. Listening and being present are important to your team.
  4. Greet your team members like you are meeting them for the first time every day.
  5. Consistency is crucial to trust and understanding.
  6. Trust is built over months, not seconds.
  7. Learn the things that you shouldn’t do in the team.
  8. Remember that each team has different rules to live by.
  9. Show respect for your team in ways that they appreciate.
  10. Understand the unique behaviour and skill set you bring to the team.
  11. Look after your team and they will look after you / You have to meet the needs of your team.
  12. Breaks in discipline / performance can’t wait until later to fix.
  13. Leading the team is not a half-hearted, part time responsibility.
  14. The leader needs to guide the team clearly and precisely.
  15. The leadership hierarchy needs to be understood by all of the team.
  16. Genuine Acts of Kindness are worth the effort.
  17. You have to be prepared for a sudden change in direction.
  18. A steady voice is more effective than an erratic one.
  19. You don’t have to bark at every noise in the external environment.
  20. Sometimes you need to ask for help.
  21. You have to decide what you are going to fight for.