What does it take to really connect and work with a team of people? There are so many concepts thrown around lately about what it takes to create a successful team unit. We are told what sort of behaviors we should mirror and how to manage our impact on others. I think a lot of these ideas are interesting; however I have found my own way of success through building a small team of amazing individuals to work with using three main strategies.
My working life has transformed to the next level this year with my new team and here’s what I have found to be the ultimate working formula – especially for small business.
What are the key ingredients for cultivating successful and authentic working relationships?
Competency + Personality + Hand Holding = Successful Working Relationships
Let’s be truthful here. To cultivate a successful working relationship with someone, both of you need to display a level of competence that is exciting to each other. What is competence? It comes in all forms, and for me it is about curiosity to learn new things and solve problems. It involves being invested in your trade and crafting work that continually improves. I also think it requires solving problems that only you can solve as it’s your area of expertise, and your team members rely on you and only you to fix it. I can think of direct examples here with my own team. My amazing web designer/developer has a natural aptitude for extending his skills to new areas and solving problems that he hasn’t done before, due to his curiosity and pride in his trade. Overnight he managed to learn how to integrate my website with two new completely unknown software applications and fix issues that the tech team of the software were unable to help with. He learns on the fly by researching ideas at lightning speed, and then logically executes them. And my marketing/graphic designer has an incredible ability to use her visual skills to create web landing pages and e-learning content that goes far beyond what she has been trained to do. She has also extended her design skills into a more strategic role and has started to think more conceptually about my longer term business vision. They are both inspiring examples of skilled competent people who continually improve and surprise me. When your team members display this level of competency, not only it is an attractive quality but it builds a huge amount of trust and admiration. It cements the working relationship. To have respect for someone’s trade, their level of competency drives the show.
Competence isn’t about perfection. Mistakes happen. It is about having the will, the desire and the dedication to keep going to fix the issue… alongside a natural aptitude for your trade. P.S. That means you love what you do.
This is my favorite. I love to work with people that make me smile. People that allow me to have a laugh and to make my day to day working life a journey of smiles and soulful meaning. I like quirky attitudes and a commitment to being light-hearted, soulful and not taking everything so seriously. I enjoy intellectual wit and humor, underpinned by a no fuss attitude of getting stuff done the right way in the right time. When you can really feel the energy and personal nature of your team mates, it takes relationships to a new level and allows a more seamless approach to unfold. For me it is a personal connection that cultivates a strong team unit. You get how the other person thinks and feels and you start to connect in a way that supersedes simple words and instructions. It is as though you can mind read what they require and this adds another level of authenticity to your working relationship. My web developer has an intelligent and witty sense of humor that comes out in tech nerd jokes and picking up on subtle information about the other team members – that make you realize he has been listening deeply to your needs and wants all along. You know he’s looking to deliver results that are personally matched to you and your work. And my marketing designer has a lovely, calm nature – backed up with strong and sassy ‘girl power’ personality that emerges at times to make you realize that she is a power house. Underneath her lovely nature, she charges through her work like a bear and this duality in her nature ensures the working relationship grows stronger every day.
This has nothing to do with having a similar personality style to each other. You recognize they are individual (maybe even quirky!) and you respect that team members style – as they do yours. Mutual respect breeds closeness even if you feel your personal styles are miles apart.
3. Hand Holding
This really translates into trust I guess, but it goes beyond that. I call it hand holding because as a business owner, you normally lead everything yourself and drive all your work initiatives. You normally hold everyone else’s hand. It can be a lonely road sometimes as the buck stops with you. So – back to the concept of hand holding. To me this means that sometimes I can take a step back and let that team member lead the way – and you are just grabbing their hand and following along for the ride. They are literally holding your hand crossing the road and you are placing complete trust in them not to get run over by a passing car that you cannot see, but they can.
And, when someone truly holds your hand – you will know it. You feel a sense of relief and certainty – a letting go of control and allowing that person to take the lead and work out your challenge. If you can feel this special gift of hand holding with your team mates, it truly will bond you together. My graphic designer and I recently had a hilariously stressful moment when we realized that our database segmenting went horribly wrong and our newsletter was sent up to 5-6 times repeatedly to the same people in the database. We felt like crazy spammers. So to fix this issue, I really didn’t have the head space or time to get it right, so I trusted that she could speak with the tech team and do a complicated workaround to reset the newsletter. I let go and let her hold my hand, and she totally worked it out. It took her less than 24 hours to find the solution.
And my web guy. Well, what can I say? As I am no tech nerd, I totally need to rely on his wisdom and ideas. He lives in Nepal, so I really have no way of marching over to his office and ensuring he delivers, so I am consistently in a hand holding experiment with him. I need to trust him. And he never fails me… ever. I remember early on in our working relationship feeling a huge sigh of relief that I had found someone that could out-think me in relation to solving conceptual problems online and translating that to a piece of code. Who knew I could find a competent, witty, emotionally intelligent, honest and hand holding web guy a zillion miles away. Well he tells me its 7981 km. away as he’s that precise!
So, this continual ‘hand holding’ feeling cultivates a hugely connected and authentic working relationship. It removes the idea of boss employee relationship and starts to function as a team of groovy people working together in harmony and respect.
This is about generosity and care. You need to place trust in your team knowing they are holding you like fine china!
“I am hugely grateful to my team who continually show me competence and soulful personality – alongside a healthy dose of hand holding. They feel like friends and this makes me feel like I am in a connected and authentic working relationship every day. For me, this is energetic bliss. If you are seeking more ways to find energetic bliss in your working life, check out our blog on Work-Life Balance.”