The way to build a great team – or to contribute to one if you’re junior – is to track progress regularly and find ways to improve how you work together. Everyone plays a role in working effectively and efficiently together. Naturally, you’ll notice the wins and losses. You’ve got to know when you’re on or off course.

But, don’t just make notes in a “tally format.” Yes, you want to know certain things like how many times you succeed in a year or how many meetings you attend in a week. But, what’s more important than COLLECTING the data is processing the information. Remember to review the results of your efforts. This puts you in a position to recognize where there is room for improvement, demonstrating your commitment to serving the greater good of the team.

Are you confident the people you work with are doing their best and giving their all? Do team members share the same vision of what it means to be successful? And, do you believe everyone on the team is on track to be better a year from now than they were a year ago?

This is what I do. I ask questions so you improve the way you work…I call it professional/personal productivity. I help people build their business, reduce their stress and work better as a team – no matter the size. Think about the success you and the firm are experiencing, then ask yourself, “Is my team working at capacity? Could we be any better?”

(By the way, I believe that everyone can always be better!)

Empower people…

…by calling out exactly HOW they contribute to the team’s success. No, I’m not talking “everyone gets a trophy” here.

This is real acknowledgment. Today, in fact as soon as you finish reading this post, open your calendar and look 30 or more days from today. Find something you and the team will work on – a project, an event, a situation that needs collaborative work – and identify the 2-3 things that have to happen between now and then.

While you’re working over the next 4 (or more) weeks, stop every Thursday and review progress. Identify at least one team member that has done something to demonstrate their commitment and focus on success. Whether you acknowledge them publicly (at the team lunch, for example) or simply send them an email to say thanks, make it a priority to let them know you noticed their work.

Do this regularly, and the people around you will become more engaged, inspired and productive. In our coaching practice, we help leaders and managers create a culture of empowerment. Imagine working in an office and with a team that is always becoming stronger and more confident, controlling the direction and milestones of work (and even life). That’s a significant promise!

Whether you’ve just joined a team, or are managing a group of 5, 15 or even 50, building an empowered team must be something you plan. Maybe not EVERY day, but at least once a month there are just three things to think about that will give you these advantages:

Your great team members will start to do, be and produce more. Your good team members will see you – and those they work with – modeling the successful behaviors so that they can start producing at higher levels. And, when lower-performing team members work with people who strive to improve, be better, and produce more, they will have only two options as their response:

To step up to the bigger game or to step out (the door) and play somewhere else. I believe that no matter your position or how long you’ve worked where you are, you have an opportunity to help yourself AND the people you work with to be at their best.

Many people think they don’t have time to do this kind of team building, individual empowerment “stuff.” But, time and time again the research proves there is a POSITIVE return when a group of people who work together, trust each other, believe in what they do and commit to a common cause that means something personally AND professionally.

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” 
–Helen Keller

Continue reading, and I’ll share two things you can do to to build a great team. Read this post and choose one of the tactics to implement at work. You can use these ideas if you’re the leader/manager as well as if you’re a more junior person on the team. (Yes, there is a lot of personal accountability to this piece!)

Over the past 18 years, I’ve spent hundreds of days in offices all over the country meeting with professionals who want to be better. In fact, I’ve coached founders, leaders, managers and employees in 47 states (and 25 countries worldwide). I ask everyone I work with the same question: “What do you know you need to do more of so that the people you work with feel more empowered at work?”

And, I hear the same types of answers (in different words) over and over again:

1. The people I work with must feel that they contribute to something big that we work on together. (PURPOSE)

2. Everyone needs to know when we’re winning, where we’re losing and how we’re going to maintain momentum toward the goals we’ve set.  (ACKNOWLEDGEMENT)


To the Leader:

Why do you do… what you do? To you, it’s clear. The reason you go to work every day and care so much about doing the right thing is that you like what you do; maybe even love it. You want to be the best you can be, serve your clients and team, and stand out as a leader people want to follow.

It is important to share your “WHY?” with the people in the office. More than a “soft skills/team building” activity, you’re standing up and presenting them with the proof of why what you do is so important to you.

The easiest way I’ve seen leaders do this is to write the script that tells a story of recent success. Then, share that win with the team/organization (in person, via a recorded video, or through a group email). Pay special attention and give specific examples of how much – and WHY – that success means to you professionally.

To the Junior/Employee:

Important: You don’t “create a professional image” as much as you magnify OR modify what people know you for. In our book Get Momentum (Wiley 2016) we suggest you answer this question AT LEAST 10 times: “What do I want to be known for?”

Take your current title (or better, the role you’re working toward in the next 12-24 months) and answer that question…10 times. This is the work you need to do so that you know what meetings to ask to be invited to, what courses to take or credentials to pursue and who to meet with for mentoring next.

Bonus points if you share your final draft with your manager or someone you work with who can help you grow. They may have ideas on how you can build up and into your professional image.


To the Leader:

Notice what’s not working.

I repeat: NOTICE what’s NOT working. Ok, now that I’ve said that (twice), I can give you a tool you can use that will help you for the rest of your career:

Notice what IS working.

(Yes, I’ll repeat that one too… NOTICE what IS working!) From a psychological point of view, we were designed to recognize danger, when something is about to or is going wrong. Today, we don’t need to be as concerned about a neighboring tribe attacking us or a wild animal sneaking into the cave while we’re sleeping. Instead, we’re always on “high alert” as we navigate traffic on the way to work, office politics (and email!) all day long, and even the challenges we face at home.

So, add an acknowledgment process to your day. Keep reading, I’ll give you one of my favorite activities that will work for EVERYONE in the office. (Oh, and you can even bring this home, parents!)

To the Junior/Employee:

As an executive Productivity and Leadership Coach, I do spend most of my time meeting with senior leaders in organizations worldwide. Often, they’ll ask me to “put something together” and talk with their team at lunch or toward the end of the day. One of my constant messages is to think 12-24 months in the future, work in 30-90 day sprints.

Think about it, a year or two from now you’ll be working where you work, living where you live, doing what you do, making what you make (in salary) based on the meetings you get invited to and the work you do in the next 1-3 months. Want a good question to ask yourself? Here it is: “90 days from today, what will I wish we’d started working on sooner?”

Now, let me give you a tool you AND your manager can use over the next year:

Daily Journaling

Write something in your journal every day. And, not just anything, I suggest you answer these three questions:

  1. What did I complete today?
  2. Who helped me today?
  3. What new question was I asked today?

Do this for just 30 days and you’ll have some amazing information you can use in your upcoming annual or semi-annual reviews as well as your own goal-setting and professional development efforts.

Building a great team is a group effort, and everyone there in the office can play a role. Collect the information you need in real time and use it to celebrate the wins, look for areas of improvement and build the team that’s going to successfully take you into the next couple of years of work (and life!).


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