When you think of a team, you think of a group of people standing to shoulder ready for whatever their team is there to achieve. In the 21st Century it’s not quite as simple as that though. And the Pandemic has made it even more complicated.

That bonding that takes place around the coffee machine or over a drink in the local pub has disappeared for many people.

Over the past couple of weeks as part of our series of emails based on the BackleyBlack Mindsetting programme we have been covering the importance of building relationships. In the related video with Steve and Roger (which was first covered on my email two weeks ago), we speculate on what the impact of all of this will have on the generation entering the workplace.

The staff of many businesses have become more like a social network than a traditional team.

As we go through our career, there are a variety of people we will interact with. I’m sure we all remember our first boss. Who was yours? What was your relationship with them like?

Were you scared of them? Maybe on your first day.

Was it simply one person giving the orders and one person following them? What did you learn from them?

Maybe nothing. Maybe that was their fault. Maybe that was yours. Maybe it was both.

But what about now that you are the boss? What does that mean for your relationship?

A few weeks ago, I saw a brief interview with Admiral Tony Radakin. You must know him. His official title is “First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff”. No, me neither. But I thought that what he said was so profound that I pressed the back button on the Sky box and wrote it down line by line. This is what he said:

“To lead is to serve
It’s service to those above you
But its especially to serve those below you
And to do that
You have to have integrity
You have to have enthusiasm
You have to have professional skills, curiosity
But you also have to have empathy and wit.”

He was talking about the Duke of Edinburgh in case you hadn’t guessed but I thought it applied to any successful leader in any walk of life.

How are you doing on all that?

It’s hard isn’t it? When you first became inspired to set up your own business, no-one ever told you how much work there would be and how thinly you might need to spread yourself. And you’ve still got to find some time to be a leader.

Sometimes to a team that you only ever see on a screen!

But even if it’s hard to get them all physically together they are still a team nonetheless.

The modern team is connected by all sorts of things. Day to day working relationships between those that sit together have in some cases been replaced by regular contact via Microsoft Teams.

Formal connections can be created by good systems and in our case, there are lots of standard emails which help us move from one step in a process to the next. Those who contribute to those systems and the continual improvements are the heroes who have created the glue that kept our team working together throughout the Pandemic.

But even if the systems are what makes us efficient, they are not what makes A4G a team.

What makes us a team is having common values. Being prepared to occasionally do something they’d rather not do in order to help a colleague. Total integrity in our dealings with the firm and with clients. Always looking to see where we can improve.

There have been quite a few changes in our team in the past year. We’ve refused to tolerate poor work and people have consequently left. We’ve gone looking for new staff with the right values and we’ve found them.

When I write these emails, I try not to generalise too much because I know everyone’s situation is different, especially at the moment.

Some of you are operating pretty much as normal albeit wearing face masks and doing that weird chicken dance thing when you meet a customer you haven’t seen for ages and neither of you are sure whether to shake hands, fist pump or bump elbows.

Some of you are like Linford Christie on the start line of the hundred metres, eyes bulging, muscles twitching waiting for the B of the Bang before the Summer sprint begins and you try and recoup some of the losses as your business re-opens.

And some of you are operating at below normal capacity buoyed by furlough money, wondering whether turnover will return to normal and whether some of those furloughed staff will need to be made redundant in the Autumn when the funding stops. Decisions, decisions.

But whatever your situation is and whatever it will be, you are going to have to bring your team with you.

Do you need to identify what the core values of your business are and educate your team?

Do you need to get a mission statement that everyone can get behind?

Do you need to re-connect with everyone in your team to ensure their approach to their job is aligned with the business’s plans?

Do you need to create some gentle competition between departments, branches, sales staff on something that can be measured and analysed on a regular basis?

Perhaps you need to invest time on the layer of management below you and help them identify what they need to do with the staff that work for them.

Whatever it is, the next 12 months is going to be an interesting and challenging time. Relationships with your mentors, peers and staff will need to evolve. And your business and your team will need your integrity, enthusiasm, professional skills, curiosity, empathy and yes even your wit like never before.

Have a good weekend.

How to build effective relationships

~ An interview with Steve Backley and Roger Black ~

Contact me today!

Malcolm Palmer


Managing Partner

01474 853856

Send me a message

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