There’s nothing more deflating than working hard to join a team you know you’ll love being a part of, only to spend every game sitting on the bench. Every practice, you show up early, you work crazy-hard, you sweat your tail off, then you stay late to help the coaches clean up.
When game day comes, you’re excited, just knowing this will be the day you finally get to play. All your hard work will pay off when you make the game-winning score. Instead, you end up sitting on the bench.
Unfortunately, it’s easy – especially in a virtual world – to leave some team members on the bench. They show up and work hard to every major project, event, or task, but when the lights go out and the crowd has cleared, they’re feeling like they didn’t get much (or any) game time.
It may not be intentional (I hope it isn’t, otherwise, I might have to write a different kind of post for you…), but it’s happening. I’m going to coach you through a few methods to get all your team members in the game, and reward them with the game time they deserve.
1. Huddle Up!
If you want your team to perform at their best level to arrive at your specific goal or target, they’ve got to know what they’re playing for. I’m not talking about trophies or bonuses here – I’m talking about your communication.
You’ve got to let your team know, from the start, exactly what you’re after. What are your goals? What are you needing to accomplish? What is the driving force behind this play?
Start the project, the week, or even every day with a huddle. Gather up, clearly lay out your expectations (and any motivational phrases you’ve collected along the way) and make sure everyone knows exactly what’s expected of them before they step foot on the office field.
Every team member has a role to play and a goal to accomplish. Make sure everyone starts out knowing what they’re working towards, and that their role is as important as everyone else’s.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice
Your team is going to show up, and they’re going to do what they do. Observe them, see who really stands out and in what areas, and make sure you not only utilize those skills they have, but work with them to improve and enhance them even more.
The point of practice is to perfect technique and strategy. You can only get better when you keep working at it. Make sure you’re working with your team to improve their skills, their talents, and their spirit. Don’t settle, and certainly don’t let them settle, for the status quo. Work to build one another onto bigger and better things.
3. Use Your Playbook
Make one, for that matter. There are things your group does really, really well. Write them down, remember them, and reference them often. If you’ve got a project coming up that requires multiple hands on deck, pull out that playbook and make sure the right people are making the right moves.
Strategy doesn’t only apply in the planning stages of an idea. It applies in the implementation, too. Make sure you’re paying attention to where you’re headed, and how your team members can all help you get there.
4. Be The 12th Man
You can’t do it all. That’s why you have a team. Don’t try to fill multiple positions with a single person. One person can’t be the quarterback and the receiver.
You can’t be the coach and the referee and the team captain and everything else. Be the 12th man. Cheer them on in their successes. Encourage them in their setbacks. Fill them up during halftime. Make sure your team knows they can’t do it without you, but they can trust themselves in their gifts and abilities to win the game.
When your team members are playing to their best strengths, you won’t need to run in and pick up the slack. Your group will keep your objectives running like a well-oiled machine.
5. Allow Audibles
You might have a certain plan and when it’s time to put it into motion, things change last minute. Don’t panic and let your team carry out a plan destined to fail. Allow them to call audibles.
You might not see the game from the same vantage point, so trust your instincts and their insight when they alert you to a last-minute change. Work together to find a different solution, communicate any changes clearly, and let the team adjust to the shake up.
When you’re looking out for them, they’re absolutely going to reciprocate and look out for you, too. Trust them enough to let them call an audible.
It only benefits your entire team when they know they’re valued, their hard work is contributing to success, and they have a vital role on your team.
Don’t leave anyone sitting on the bench. If you need them to get you game-ready, you need them to play, too.