Taking the team along

Most of us know that the word TEAM is often described as ‘Together Everyone Achieves More.’ The era of individual contributors is witnessing a slow death over the past few years. While not everyone is a people manager, work environments of today demand that individuals work cross functionally and collectively. The boundaries of ‘this is my turf’ and that ‘no one else knows this better than me’ have blurred to give way to a new way of functioning – that of seamless collaboration.

Given the above context, managing teams has become critical for overall achievement of an organisation’s goals. Communications as an enabling function has always had to work across a diverse group of internal as well as external stakeholders. As this pandemic has shown to us, never before has teamwork within and with communication been so important than it is today.

The journey of managing a team and working with a team is an experience that we all go through in our professional career and it really does not end at any stage! In our function we encounter people with different thoughts, opinions, views and it is our job as communicators to take everyone along and develop an aligned and common narrative. 

No two experiences of working with teams are ever the same! That is the beauty of it all. Teamwork is a process of learning about others and most importantly, also about yourself. 

How does one navigate working with different people? Some fundamentals that have stood the test of time are as follows:

People want to be seen and heard – it does not matter at what level one is – everyone loves to be appreciated and recognised for the skills and strengths they bring on the table. Appreciation need not come just from the leader. It can be across hierarchies. However, have you noticed how stingy we are with appreciation but quick when it comes to criticise? Positive reinforcement is known to help people progress. Take that effort and make that time to appreciate people.

Foster critical thinking – delegate, delegate, delegate. Create opportunities for members of your team to innovate and bring new ideas on the table. Empower them to lead projects end-to-end. Once you have placed your trust in them, it is not difficult to build a winning team culture. Trust is the foundation that makes things easier. There is no doubt on that.

Allow for mistakes to happen – fail, fail and you shall succeed. Unfortunately, many organisations put emphasis on getting everything right at the first moment. There is nothing like failure to learn from and move on to the next step. When teams are allowed to experiment and be bold, profound changes are bound to happen.

Be authentic – believe me, if you are not authentic, your team and many others will catch it soon. Putting on a façade never works in a team especially when the environment demands equal accountability and responsibility from each member. Be who you are and focus on your unique skills and expertise.

Agree to disagree – this one is easier said than done! Inclusion takes on a completely different meaning here. We are truly inclusive when we embrace different thoughts and approaches and do not have a problem in acknowledging them. Most of the times, our unconscious biases act as a barrier towards creating a more inclusive environment. Being aware of our own biases is the first step to do away with the ‘it’s either my way or your way’ kind of approach.

Respect space – we all have our own ways of achieving our goals and accomplishing a task. As a team member or a team leader, learn to give space and respect the different styles of working. 

A team that has a sense of responsibility, is recognised and appreciated and that celebrates individualism even while retaining the spirt of working together, is the one that shall always win!

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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