Foundation to Creating a “Team”

Creating a team environment can be very challenging. Below, I will share best practices in creating the foundation of a “team,” these will include the five-five rule as well as, digging deeper into what “family feel” means. 

Tell Me About Your Team; Five-Five Rule

Five-Five Rule: “Can you tell me five things about each person on your team that I could not uncover after five minutes of first speaking with them?”

When I was a Regional Account Manager KS/MO, I ran in to a challenge of getting some of my team on board with driving a new company initiative. While traveling with my boss at the time, we were discussing wins and challenges of my market. Upon discussing an issue with getting some of my team on board to drive a particular company initiative, he challenged me to tell him three personal things about each of my store managers. When I was unable to provide this on each of my managers, he asked me why I felt the team was not bought in, I knew what I had to do from here..

After our conversation, I knew I had to get my team together and repair this foundation or our market would come tumbling down. During our next monthly manager’s meeting, I kicked it off by asking all of my managers to pull out a piece of paper and a pen. Each manager was then asked to write down all of their employees names, leaving a little space under each of the names. I asked them to take the first five minutes to think to themselves and write down five personal things about each of their employees in which I would not know if I spent five minutes hanging out talking with them in the store. While thinking and writing, I let them know they could be honest and blunt as they would be keeping to themselves for their own purposes. When asked how many were able to detail five things about each of their employees, not one manager raised their hand.  

Now, as a leader, it is our job to own our mistakes as well as, mistakes of our employees due to our leadership or lack of. I told the managers I had failed them as a leader in building our foundation. I next advised I wanted to conduct and participate in a team building activity to begin to fix this. We began tossing a ball around the group, the tosser asking non work-related questions and the catcher answering this question. At first, questions were awkward and forced such as “what is your favorite color.” After tossing around a couple of times, everyone became extremely engaged in one another, asking deep questions such as “who has made the biggest difference in your life,” an hour had passed before we knew it. Wrapping up this activity, I asked each manager to share feedback and thoughts of the activity with the team. Every manager stated how excited they were to take this back to their store meetings so we could become a stronger TEAM, also sharing at least one or two things they were most surprised to learn about someone else in the group. From this day on, my store leaders had a different view on the word “TEAM,” they began to not only hold themselves accountable, but challenged each other to build a true team atmosphere. 

This is when I established the “five-five rule.” Today, I continue to share this experience and utilize this activity with peers as well as reporting team members. The five-five rule is a great way to begin building the foundation of a team. 

“Family Feel” Good Family vs Bad Family

A lot of organizations/teams like to reference having a “family feel environment.” Treating one another as family is detrimental in becoming a true team, how we communicate what we mean by “family” is even more important but often overlooked. During my role as a Regional Sales Manager, I attended a company meeting in which a VP presented a very impactful coaching activity to us and I will now do with you..

Before scrolling down, take out a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. On one one side, write “good family” and on the other side, write “bad family.” Under each of these, begin to list some characteristics of each. After completing, scroll down and check out the example I have provided as well:

Good Family vs Bad Family

Now, I have only begun to list a few characteristics of each, you will begin to notice that “family feel” can become very misconstrued. Many hearing “family feel” can view this as a buddy/friendly type of environment. Conducting this activity opens eyes as to what we mean when we say “family feel.” When discussing behaviors and “family environment,” refer back to the question of: “Does this reflect as a good or bad family characteristic/behavior?”

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