The last three months can be a pivotal time of year. Vacations are finished. The press of work and the hustle for families have returned. It’s easy to get lost in what is right in front of you instead of concentrating on your end-of-year goals. Don’t let that happen. Engaged teams emerge or vanish in opportunities like this.
Team Engagement is the pinnacle of leadership. It’s the end result of a process that guides each person to their place on the team so that they can find their personal fulfillment in the team’s success. This makes Team Engagement a completely different beast than Team Building.
Team Building is discovering more about the members of your team; what they enjoy, their creativity, or their competitiveness. It comes through playing bubble soccer, and attending wine and cheese pairings, or even a team lunch. And, while Team Building is valuable, it is not Team Engagement. Done well Team Building can create connections where true Team Engagement can begin to form. Done badly, it is a sugar pill for teams that creates the expected high and then the inevitable crash. Team Building answers the question: “Who are these people?”
Employee Engagement is about the individual and how that team member finds personal fulfillment at work. An engaged employee is more likely to be able to contribute to an engaged team which makes your focus on the employee important. To get to Employee Engagement a manager needs to spend one-on-one time with an employee to understand from where that personal fulfillment can come. Employee Engagement answers the question: “What do these people need?”
Team Engagement answers the question: “How do these people find joy in the team?” which leads to Joy at Work. Team Engagement is the lightning in a bottle that many of us have experienced on a sports team, theater group, or hopefully somewhere in your work. Team Engagement (like so many things) is something you know when you see it, but there are signs.
There are three signs of Team Engagement:
- Team members are putting team results ahead of their own
- Team members offer help to others on your team as a way to drive the team forward, not as a way to assert a superior status
- Team members express joy at being part of your team and seeing the goals of the team achieved
But if these are the signs, how to achieve them? The first necessary step is totally with you, Awesome Leader. You need to embody the three signs of Team Engagement. As Roxanne has often said, for a team to change, the leader must change first.
Your first assignment is to reflect on the level of truth for you Awesome Leader in each of the three signs of Team Engagement. Think about how that truth came to be. Think about how happy you are with the situation. Think about where you would like that to be by the end of the year.