May 9, 2013
The art of leading and developing teams
Suzanne Jones is the Business Support Director at the City of London Corporation, a qualified accountant who has worked as a consultant for a number of years as well as in roles in the public services. Suzanne is a Leading & Developing High Performance practitioner and has worked with a number of organisations developing leaders and leadership. In this post she talks about leading and developing teams, in this case one she has built up from scratch. You can find Suzanne on Linkedin here.
How many times as a leader have you wished that you had a blank canvas and were able to set up a team from scratch? I’ve been in that lucky position for the last 18 months and now have an operational service delivering procurement and payment activities for large complex public service organisation.
Following the principle of Leading & Developing High Performance the team is clear about its vision, values and objectives. The team’s values include being a world class service, being valued by the organisation, recognising success and having fun. They certainly do that with a variety of social events including cake bakes (and eating of course), dressing up for red nose day and St Patrick’s Day – a rare mix of red and green!
We have our very own mascot, Barry the Beaver, a lovely beanbag character who gets taken by the team to various places of interest – he has been to cricket, football, flown to Helsinki and seems to be ever present where there is champagne on offer!
There is a team generated and owned culture which dovetails beautifully with the organisational cultures which our new Chief Executive has set out for us. Performance is measured, monitored shared and used as an improvement tool.
The behaviours and attitudes that are important to us are recognised and rewarded and already after just four months, poor performance and inappropriate behaviour is being addressed. For example, frequent sickness absence is being addressed; team leaders have had some difficult conversations with people who weren’t initially happy about transferring into the team from other parts of the organisation. That’s not been easy for team leaders to do or for the team members to hear.
As part of this we had our own version of the Oscars where team members were nominated for awards centering on catching people doing things right. Awards were given for attitude and behaviour not just for churning out volume of work. It was my pleasure to judge the awards and in doing so I used the following speech.
“We know that today is International Women’s Day and I’ve attended a couple of events where I have been lucky enough to hear some emotional, funny, inspirational and talented women who have offered pieces of advice which are relevant to everyone irrespective of gender and I want to share them and ask you to take them on.
1. Be yourself at work.
2. Be the best that you can be.
3. Step out of your comfort zone and take every opportunity to get the experiences that you can.
Turning to some words from our Chief Executive who not only endorsed our work, he urged us to use CO words. Here are a few that I want this team to adopt:
Be confident in what you do, co-operate with each other and with other colleagues in other departments as well as being good colleagues to each other. Get your work correct, consistently and be competent showing commitment and communicate effectively. We are also asked to ban X words such as exclusive and exclude.
My personal commitment today to you is that in return for your efforts to be yourself, be the best that you can be and for stepping outside your comfort zone, I promise you my full support.
I read a quote which said ‘Forget all the reasons it won’t work and believe in the one reason that it will’, and for me that is you – the people!”
What’s your experience of leading and developing teams?