This blog is dedicated to the friends I made at Atlanta Soundworks. ASW has such a talented group of people and an ownership team with such generous hearts and caring attitudes. I will miss you all dearly. Although I was not able to do all I had hoped to do in the short time I was there, I did learn a lot and I was reminded of one of the most important aspects of leadership: teamwork. I hope my team at ASW remembers me as someone who tried to develop the TEAM. Without that team, I would not have survived even that long (short as it was).
What does it take to make a team? TEAM — from a leader’s perspective you can look at the word team to help define what a team needs from you.
Here is the pneumonic that I am referring to when I say that:
- T = Trust
- E = Empower
- A = Acknowledge
- M = Mentor
Trust — Your team needs your trust. If you spend all of your time double checking everything your team does, they will wonder why it is you hired them in the first place. Many of the greatest leaders I have ever known have said, “I only hire people smarter than myself.” Which by the way, if you do the math that makes the CEO the dumbest person in the company, but I digress. But, joking aside I am stating you should only hire people more trust worthy and smarter than you. And then TRUST THEM! You should not be able to do the work of all the people who work under you, nor should you try to. Sure, you should be able to direct all the work that is done under you, but God forbid you are actually able to do it all. If you could do everything that is done by the people who work for you, then the people who work for me have a pretty narrow capability set and low bandwidth. Could you imagine what would happen if the people who worked for Jack Welch could only do what he was capable of and if everything they did had to be checked by him? GE would be crippled. Jack Welch was able to trust a team of leaders, who in turn trusted a team of leaders, who trusted… and so on. I do understand that all of that trust comes from having been proven in the first place, but for God’s sake let your people prove themselves and then get the heck out of their way. You stifle creativity and limit growth when you do not trust your team. You ultimately lose people over lack of trust and you will lose them quickly. Trust is the root of every relationship and no matter how good you are in every other aspect of the relationship; you will lose any relationship over trust issues. Loss of trust is the one relationship showstopper. It doesn’t matter whether you are the one who is not trusted or the skeptical one, eventually the relationship will come to an end.
Empower — Empowerment comes hand in hand with trust. Trusted people are allowed to make decisions and act. Trust alone, without power, is futile. Empowerment is the verb of trust. It is the spirit in the organization that allows people to KNOW that they can act on the trust they have been given. Trust is lip service without empowerment. JW Marriot empowered its people with $1000 each to make a customer satisfied. Without question each employee could make the judgment call and spend that $1000 to make things right for the customer. Do you allow your employees the decision power to make things right? Are they trusted AND empowered?
Acknowledge — Awards and Rewards are nice. Heck they are the new buzz right now. I want to emphasize that we need to make sure that we recognize, appreciate and show GRATITUDE. The acknowledgements at the front of a book are full of the gratitude and appreciation expressing about those who got the writer to where he/she is. Don’t just check a box with employee of the month or the required number of thank you messages for the day. Take the time to acknowledge those who contribute to what gets you to where you are. A good exercise to do this is to reflect on a week or month and think about what got you where you are. Run all the ‘what if’ scenarios. I hate to think about the whole ‘what if Jane got hit by a bus’ scenario I use ‘what if Jane won the lottery and she wasn’t here this week?’ What impact would that have had? Look at those ‘lottery’ scenarios for as many people as you can for the week and acknowledge those people who “got you there.” Acknowledge people publically and privately. There is something to be said for a private note once in a while. Yes, public recognition is nice, but a note between you and an employee means more sometimes. It takes the element of the boss showing off out of the equation.
Mentor — It is one thing to direct people to do what needs to be done. It is a whole other thing to do it with them. In my last couple weeks at ASW, I had the luxury of going onsite for an install with a team and out on a couple of sales calls. What a blast! I forgot how much fun spending time in the field and being with your team is. Don’t lose this. Being with the people who are getting it done and mentoring them, learning WITH them, is vital to developing as a team. That is what mentoring is, learning WITH the team. Learning is a shared experience and the leader should learn right along with the team. That shared experience is what allows the mentor to talk about where they gained similar knowledge and other experiences that may apply and draw out experiences that their team has. The mentor and mentee relationship is a mutually beneficial one and is quite rewarding and fun. It is the number one reason I love training; because as a trainer, I am always learning from my students.
My Next Big Thing
Max is now a partner/owner of a new independent consulting firm for AV and IT manufacturers, integration firms and consultant firms. He provides consulting in channel development, sales training, sales process improvement and sales program development. Max also provides consulting for product development and product management. Max’s training and certification programs have been globally recognized by industry and he now consults with top companies to provide channel education program development, execution and management. He carries some of the top certifications in networking and audiovisual technologies. Max has worked in Unified Communications for over 14 years in various management and technical roles. He has worked in product management, sales and sales management, channel marketing, field technical services and training. Over the last 26 years Max has acquired an extensive background in supporting A/V systems, computer networks, telecom, and VTC systems. Max is Senior Faculty for InfoComm University and serves as a Subject Matter Expert on an as needed basis. In 2010 Max was awarded InfoComm’s Educator of the Year Award and has helped prepare over 800 students for the CTS exam. Max has been the keynote speaker for several partner events throughout the industry and at the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Conference, where (as Product Manager) he was awarded a Bronze M2M Product of the Year Award for Networked AV for ChristieNET. He also teaches the National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA) University and for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) annual show.