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Lesson #3 – The Value of Team Building

The term “Diamond Formation Leader” originates from the diamond shape that is achieved when four airplanes fly in perfect formation position in three-dimensional space. I had the good fortune to be part of these diamond formations during my military aviation career.

As you know by now those four corners are:

  • Collaboration
  • Team Building
  • Cultural Sensitivity
  • Globalization

Today we focus on the first layer of Team Building and Team.

It really starts with the selection of the right team members. In some cases as you get promoted and move up in the ladder of responsibility and authority you might inherit an existing team and will have to motivate and inspire the team members to follow your vision.

Some people think when they inherit a team there isn’t much team building to be done anymore. That is not true. When you look at your team members as individuals who want to be challenged, grow, learn, and qualify for promotions of their own, there is a lot of work to be done.

It start by using a list of questions that allow you to determine where each team members stands, what’s going well and what’s not going so well. In this context, it is helpful to utilize the TCOY-guided questionnaire. I was involved in the book of the same title (Take Charge of Your Talent) by my friend Don Maruska. This questionnaire not only helps you learn where your team members stand, but also how well their own work and personal goals are aligned with their talents and with their vision for themselves, compared to what they are asked to do at work. In some cases you will discover that the best teams building you can do is to advocate for a team member to be allowed to switch to a position in another department, project or division of your company.

The other use of the TCOY questionnaire comes when building a new team that you can hire. Then the comparison of personal goals and dreams with the needs and expectations of the positon on your team you hire for is even more important.

When you do TCOY, both for existing teams or new teams, you have a first important aspect covered – alignment between what team members want and what current reality presents.

The next thing that you need to apply to build a diamond formation team is focused on the aspect of style. You need to find out what personality styles exists in your team, regardless if you have an existing team or put a new team together. You want to have style diversity in your team so that all possible aspects and facets in upcoming work can be addressed by the most suitable style. Imagine you had nobody who likes numbers and spreadsheets and formulas and you are asked to create or check a budget. Imagine you are supposed to come up with a new approach to a problem and you have nobody with a predominantly creative style on your team. What if you really need to have your group band together and nobody on your team is a master in collaborative style and all the benefits that come from that ability to create community?

There are many layers of team building, but the third and last one for today is the interpersonal communication component. Yes, there is a lot to be said and taught and discussed when it comes to communication, inspiring, influencing, etc. and I will go into that in future posts.

What I refer to at this point is the “Diamond Formation Leader – Team Meeting Schedule”. It is important to realize that leading is looking forward, strategizing and heling your team members. They are to use what you provide to them to create procedures, plans, manage the process, implement, measure and control. As the strategic developer of yur team, you need to stay in constant communication with them.

For the DFL Team Schedule I recommend to have at least one weekly check in meeting with each team member (for sure with all direct reports) and one weekly team meeting for the group. If they are dispersed, use tools like Webex or Goto-meeting and insist that remote participants turn on their video. Don’t forget that about 70% of communication is non-verbal, so you want to see them and they should see the team whenever possible. You can rotate the meeting lead role so each member gets to practice.

Finally you should have quarterly meetings with each member of your team to check on performance and goals achievement. Every other of these quarterly meetings can also be used for the official performance reviews.

It it isn’t a regular practice in your organization you want to include a 360 review with two levels above and below you each year. Alternatively, an internal anonymous employee satisfaction survey can serve a similar purpose.

Th reis so much more to be said about team building, but with these three parts you will already be well above average in engaging your team and building it into a strong, successful and supportive Diamond Formation Team.

More to come in future posts on the four core aspects of Diamond Formation Leadership

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