Creating a More Effective Team By A. R. Chase and Mike Zemke

We’ve all heard the phrase “too many chiefs and not enough Indians.” Sometimes that is what happens when we are told to sit down with others and come up with a plan. It could be something to achieve a simple goal or solve a problem. The boss says something like, “I want you guys to sit down and figure it out.” So, everybody sits down in the conference room — but then what. Who is in charge? Now you are at a crossroad … what do you do?
Some people would rather talk over everyone else instead of listening. It is not pleasant being told, “Your idea is not that good,” or “I have a better one.” It seems like this can turn into major chaos. Knowing what your specific role is along with others can fix issues before one even occurs. Creating a new problem to solve an older one only makes matters worse.

Some key things to consider might be:

  • Assign roles
  • Know what your goal is
  • Set short-term and long-term goals
  • Set a reasonable time frame and follow-up • Trust your team
  • Don’t be afraid to change
  • Reward your team for their success

… what else can you think of for your business?

Recognizing Strengths

When Ann and I go into a greenhouse or nursery, we go as a “team” to do consulting — we have different roles. Ann does not try to do what I am best at and I for sure don’t want to act like a plant pathologist. Afterward, we can design a plan to help the company with whatever the issue(s) might be. Guess what — we almost never notice the same thing. One of the strengths of building a good team is to recognize everyone’s special strengths and allow them to shine.

A lot of companies have different teams to handle specific issues. One team might look into safety, another into technical advances and a third into new crops. Having an effective team that reaches its goal can be rewarded with some incentives. Since a lot of people like competition, having different teams compete will quite often boost morale and make the employees more interested.

Trust Your Team

Some people are natural leaders. As a good team leader, you need to trust and believe in your people. A team with high trust will produce results faster and at lower cost. Respect the people you lead, no reason why you can’t respect your team members at the same time by challenging them to perform at the highest level.

Shared Vision

Being clear on what the goal of your team is should be a priority. It’s hard to guide teams to a goal if you don’t know where you are going or keep changing directions. Make sure everyone on the team knows what the goal is. Get input from your team on setting a time frame for reaching the goals. Be realistic. People often think it will be easier to achieve a goal than it actually will be. Experienced leaders know this and adjust the goals accordingly.

Making a team more effective can be challenging when the team members have different values. These affect setting priorities and reaching them. Set some short-term and long-term goals. Meet regularly even if it is just for a few minutes. If goals are not being reached, find out why. Don’t assign blame — find a solution.

Give your team members freedom to improve. What was good for the industrial age is completely obsolete in today’s relationship economy. We used to hear that phrase, “Do what you’re told.” People did repetitive jobs on the production line, always hearing commands and direction from someone higher up — sometimes they never even met this person. Today, good leaders want to collaborate, participate, innovate and even self- organize. That means they aren’t purely the chief-leader; they are team players, but their specific role/gift is leader.

Finally, make sure that everyone has a chance to succeed. Nobody wants to be part of a team that fails or be a part of a team that they personally cannot contribute to. That might mean switching people to a different team if they are better suited to be a part of that one.

Really if one person fails, nobody has succeeded.

Chase Agricultural Consulting, LLC was formed at the end of 2011 when Ann (A.R.) Chase and Mike Zemke moved to Arizona. Ann has more than 35 years experience in research, diagnostics and practical consulting in plant pathology. She has been retired from the University of Florida – Mid Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka since 1994, but remains on staff as a Professor Emeritus. Mike holds an Associate of Applied Science in manufacturing drafting. Mike started his education in horticulture when he and Ann were married in 1995. He specializes in communications of all sorts within the industry.

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