Build Out The Team

If anyone out there manages folks in an entry level position you know that one of the biggest challenges is helping the team to see the bigger picture. This is, in my case, a challenge because a) their job involves being in the details and b) it is easy to become jaded when you are feeling like you are not a part of the decision making. What I decided to do was meet with my VP to get a list of the strategic initiatives of our department (supply chain). Armed with this list I, along with my counterpart, scheduled a monthly meeting with our teams to have a workshop focused around how we directly impact the strategic initiatives of our department. We have found this to be a great spend of time to not only get the whole team to see how we impact the bigger picture which is motivating, but also a chance to identify rising talent.

The first strategic initiative we wanted to discuss was “Build Out The Team”. The exercises we went through is something anyone can work through with their team regardless of whether or not it is an initiative within your department.

We asked the teams to reflect for two minutes on each of the following categories:

  • The best teammate they ever had
  • The best coach they ever had
  • The best teacher they ever had
  • Someone they admire
  • The best team they have been a part of

They wrote down traits for each reflection, and then took 5 minutes to identify common themes.

Once the common themes were identified we asked them to group into teams of 4 to discuss their findings and highlight the common themes between all of their lists. We had each group assign a speaker to present their findings. If you try this you may be surprised how similar each group is with their findings.

After each group presented we then had a large group discussion on how our team can better represent the common themes. This was a tactical discussion about things we can do today, this week, or this month. The team had some wonderful ideas that we have since implemented, which is a great motivator for them to know they have had a direct impact on how we as a team function.

Below are just a few of the things we agreed to do more of as a team.

  • Shadow other teammates in supply chain
  • Team events
    • Managers: set up more formal events (i.e. team building and community service)
    • Teammates: take the lead on setting up informal events (i.e. potluck meals, happy hours, lunch together, etc.)
  • Iron Bonds
    • Take fitness classes together! (we have the luxury of having a gym at the office)
  • Take a minute
    • Take a minute to check in on teammates to show them something you’ve learned or see if they need help.
  • Don’t solve the same problem twice
    • If you figure something out, establish a best practice, or solve a problem…share it with the team! We should not have to solve the same problem twice!


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