A broker, their admin, and the admin manager form a team, that when working in harmony, produce better results, driving that brokers business (and that of Create) forward.
When the team falls out of sync, things can go wrong and business stalls out as rework on old cases and A's+Q's slow things to a crawl.
Whether you are a persons official 'manager' or not, if you have authority over them, responsibility rest with you to provide, or contribute to, an environment that fosters teamwork.
There are hundreds of models and structures to consider when building a 'team mentality', Partick Lencioni's happens to be a really good one:
This video from Lencioni explains the basics well:
take action: the Five Dysfunctions
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team outlines the root causes of dysfunction in the teams, and the keys to overcoming them.
Counter to conventional wisdom, the causes of dysfunction are both identifiable and curable. However, they don't die easily.
Making a team functional and cohesive requires levels of courage and discipline that many groups and individuals cannot seem to muster. You must take action to build your team.
1. Absence of Trust
The fear of being vulnerable with team members prevents the building of trust within the team.
This occurs when team members are reluctant to be vulnerable with one another and are unwilling to admit their mistakes, weaknesses or needs for help.
Without a certain comfort level among team members, a foundation of trust is impossible.
The Role of the Leader here is to Go First.
Action: Step outside your role and TALK
For a team member to feel comfortable talking to you, they have to see that you are willing to do the same.
You have to take the first step. An easy option is to book a meeting away from the office and simply talk your team member through who you are, what you've done in the past and any challenges you've had to get here.
'Vulnerability' in this instance isn't about being overly emotive, its about being transparent with someone about who you are and your challenges in the hope that they empathise and reciprocate.
2. Fear of Conflict
Just the word 'conflict' evokes thoughts of fighting or arguing with no positive outcome. This isn't what we're looking at here, as it would be counterproductive to your team.
However, positive and constructive conflict is central to a teams success.
The desire to preserve 'harmony' stifles the occurrence of productive conflict, where improvement is the goal.
Teams that are lacking in trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered, passionate debate about key issues, causing situations where team conflict can easily turn into veiled discussions and back channel comments.
In a work setting where team members do not openly air their opinions, inferior decisions are the result as members try not to 'rock the boat' at all cost and big problems build unchecked.
There are few more powerful and confidence building questions than: What do YOU think we should do?
Review cases regularly and look for 'blockers', processes you and your team perform that slowed or stopped progress.
Discuss these openly with your team member and include them in the improvement process.
3. Lack of Commitment
The lack of clarity or buy-in prevents team members from making decisions they will stick to.
Without conflict, it is difficult for team members to commit to decisions, creating an environment where ambiguity prevails.
Lack of direction and commitment can make employees disgruntled.
The Role of the Leader here is to Create Clarity.
Action: Understand what team members are doing more than once a day, and share your activity too.
'Follow Up' is a core concept I firmly believe is vital to continuous success in teams.
You have to 'Follow Up' with team members on the tasks you have set them throughout the length of the activity to keep them on track.
This sounds like a pain, and it will be at first, however if implemented consistently you can start to slowly reduce the number and frequency of Follow Ups as a mini version of you metaphorically sits on the staff members shoulder, reminding them you regularly check on them and that they need to stay focused.
To begin, you need to be 'touching base' with team members at the beginning, middle and end of the day to first set goals, next check the progress of goals, and finally to praise completion of goals, understand blockers to incomplete goals, and to as what will be done the next day to resolve outstanding goals.
4. Avoidance of Accountability
The need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding one another accountable for their behaviours and performance.
When teams don't commit to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven individuals hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviours that may seem counterproductive to the overall good of the team.
The Role of the Leader here is to Confront Difficult Issues.
Action: Set Roles and Responsibilities and review regularly with management
When everyone is clear on responsibilities, and your staff member falls short of this, you should immediately make their manager aware so they can proactively handle this.
Leaving this issue to further affect your business or discussing this outside of the team breaks down trust, which as the foundation of the team, send you back to square one.
For a manager to handle issues they need specifics. Ensure that when you feed back, you are clear on the problem and your proposed solution.
5. Inattention to Results
The pursuit of individual goals and personal status erodes the focus on collective success.
Team members naturally tend to put their own needs (ego, career development, recognition, etc.) ahead of the collective goals of the team when individuals aren't held accountable.
If a team has lost sight of the need for achievement, the business ultimately suffers.
The Role of the Leader here is to Focus on Collective Outcomes.
Action: Get your admin bought into your business goals
I've talked before about the importance of clear personal goals, but have you shared your 'Why' with your team members?
If someone knows they are working towards a goal, they're more inclined to invest in its success.
Share your goals and articulate to your team member how they fit into the grand scheme of things.
Conversely, take time to understand the personal goals of your team member, are they working towards goals that are mutually beneficial? If your team member wants to achieve a compliance based bonus for example, you will both benefit from them working towards this with your support.
Addressing the Dysfunctions
Like it or not, all teams are potentially dysfunctional.
This is inevitable because they are made up of fallible, imperfect human beings. However, facing dysfunction and focusing on teamwork is particularly critical at the top of an organisation because the executive team sets the tone for how all employees work with one another.
To begin improving your team and to better understand the level of dysfunction you are facing, ask yourself these simple questions:
Do team members openly and readily disclose their opinions?
Are team meetings compelling and productive?
Does the team come to decisions quickly and avoid getting bogged down by consensus?
Do team members confront one another about their shortcomings?
Do team members sacrifice their own interests for the good of the team?
Although no team is perfect and even the best teams sometimes struggle with one or more of these issues, the finest organisations constantly work to ensure that their answers are "yes." If you answered "no" to many of these questions, your team may need some work.
The first step toward reducing politics and confusion within your team is to understand that there are five dysfunctions to contend with, and address each that applies, one by one.
Commit to Taking Action
This article has been shared with team leaders and brokers.
Your first step as a broker (if you're interested in improving your team) should be to discuss your thoughts with your admin manager, it may be that you want to implement some, or all of the above actions, and with them on board, success is more easily achieved.