Wind “em” up, and let “em” fly. Turning your pack into a team…

The inspiration for today’s blog comes from a surprising source – American College Football, and the wise words of super-coach Joe Paterno.

“When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality”.

Never a truer word was spoken, and it has particular relevance to those who have worked hard on their start-up strategy, and got to a point where they need to take on staff to handle their growth. Having generally flown solo for some time, it’s never easy to relinquish even a tiny part of your fledgling business to someone else – and it’s absolutely normal to be convinced that you are the only person who can be trusted to do the job right.

Normal –Yes. Correct – No! Whilst it will feel like a huge leap of faith to let other people become an instrumental part of your business, it’s absolutely the right thing to do. Not only do you then reap the benefits of other ideas and opinions, but you also find yourself with less to do, and more time to (a) focus on the bits that you’re really good at, and (b) take a bit of time out!

A team isn’t a team until everyone in it has a role and a responsibility. At first, you will simply be the leader of the pack, making sure everyone does what you want them to do. As your pack develops, everyone will begin to find their feet, and it is at this point that you will begin to experience the joys of valuable input from others. Embrace it, encourage it, and don’t write off anything that doesn’t initially seem to fit in with your vision for your company. Good ideas can come from way off-field, so be prepared to consider every idea, even the crazy ones.

Turning a pack into a team is a process that goes in phases. Initially, you will be directing operations, telling people what to do, and taking responsibility for making sure everything happens. Phase One, the “Directing” phase, calls for a high level of direction, and low level of support. Sounds odd, but support comes later, as your team start to take responsibility for their own workload.

Phase Two, the “Coaching” phase is where you will continue to direct strongly, but also support more, as your team start to spread their wings and do their own thing.

Phase Three is when you find yourself having to take that leap of faith, and let your team fly independently. Also known as the “Normal” phase, low direction and low support, essentially, letting your team get on with it!

The Fourth and final phase is the really exciting one. The “Performing” phase, incorporates low direction, low support, and delegation, and indicates that you have a team in place who you can trust to manage your precious business for you. Some business owners never quite have (or instil) the confidence in their team to reach that final phase, whether through their own inability to let others take over, or by having a team who still require much management, but if you can get there, it’s a great place to be.

It’s also a good time to head off to Hawaii for a bit of R&R!