The A-Team is more than an 80’s action-adventure series with an improbable plotline. (How could four ex-special forces military men be misunderstood by The Law, and therefore need to be on the run, for so long? How many average citizens are so desperate for help that they are willing to accept it coming from a quartet of renegades on the lam?) At work, an A-Team leverages each individual member’s strengths while creating a whole body of synergistic expertise. It is a team that others in the organization respect and admire. This is a team with high standards, and they meet them consistently. They are The Experts, and they are a powerhouse and picture of employee engagement.
So, how can you build your own A-Team?
1) Create a compelling mission. Your team needs an occasion to rise to. Take that dry 88-slide Powerpoint strategy deck and find the unique way your team can be the heroes. What problem are they here to solve? How can they be uniquely of service?
2) Define what your team contributes during a crisis. When a crisis occurs, how does your team step in and save the day? An A-Team doesn’t expect a smooth road every step of the way. When the organization needs them most, they say “Bring it on!”. Note: this is not the same thing as putting up with nonsense. If there are repeated “crises” because of workflows or handoffs that are dysfunctional, deal with that separately. Sometimes the heroic thing to do is to put a stop to patterns that aren’t serving the organization. But when an honest-to-goodness crisis comes to pass, a team of highly trained, unflappable experts is what is needed. What plan can you and the team put in place to help them be that team?
3) Know your team’s unique and critical contribution. In the TV show, the A-Team consisted of former members of the military special forces. They had expertise that few others had. What would you like your team to be called upon to do, that is uniquely theirs? This is likely some combination of a technical skill along with a less tangible quality, like being highly empathetic in their interactions with customers, tenacious problem-solvers, or the ability to see the bigger picture.
4) And know each team member’s unique and critical contribution, too. Each member of the A-Team had something unique about them that, when combined with the unique something about the other members of the group, really set the world on fire. Start noticing your team members’ unique ways of contributing. Call it out. And appreciate how, combined, your A-Team is greater than the sum of its parts.
5) Keep that bar high through storytelling and holding each other accountable. Encourage your team to keep fighting the good fight. When a customer appreciates their efforts, tell the story back to them. Remind them that this is why they are here and putting in the work. And when someone momentarily that they are on an A-Team, lovingly remind them that the team is there for a higher purpose and invite them back into the fold.
Expertise is a major driver of employee engagement. Encouraging your employees to take some training isn’t enough to help them feel the satisfaction of being an expert. People need a continual connection of that expertise back to a bigger challenge and to have that expertise represent an ideal they want to strive for, and to be part of a collective group that shares pride in that expertise.
Find your partner in building your A-Team. Book a call with Wendy today.