4 Career Building Lessons I Learned From My Team

This article was originally posted on April 6th, 2016.


Anything worth something can not be done without a great team of people, period. The following are a list of career-building lessons I gained from my team at CCNY.

Regardless of your profession,whatever your goals and aspirations in life may be in they cannot be achieved without a great team of people by your side. After some time of self-reflection and  reminiscing on the experiences I’ve had for the past three years attending college, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of things.

Recruitment is the first thing you need to do.

You can’t do anything without a team. The objective doesn’t matter, if you can’t sell your ideas you won’t get people to join you. The biggest hurdle all leaders will face is recruiting team members. I learned this when I began conducting interviews for potential candidates for my fraternity. When a candidate is being interviewed, they are not only selling themselves to you, but you are also selling your company to them. I’ll admit, during the first couple of interviews that I was directly involved in, I found myself negligent when it came to making the candidates feel like they were a part of the team. This is why it is so important to follow up with accepted candidates immediately after their interviews and get them acclimated with the team’s mission and vision. A great resource I used to help with my hiring skills is “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt, I cannot recommend this book enough.

You won’t get anything done if you can’t motivate people.

Over the past few weeks, I have noticed that my team members in student government seem to have a constant sense of urgency and purpose in everything they do. Whether it relates to our weekly meetings, daily tasks regarding student outreach, office management, reporting on tasks, or just general office maintenance, everyone seems to have found where they “fit.” This certainly didn’t happen overnight. Since the beginning of my tenure as President of this wonderful organization, I made it abundantly clear that I would be open to any communication from my team as well as constructive dialogue. Transparency is the pillar that our team stands on. I have observed in the past that important information that is given to the leadership of an organization usually becomes diluted (almost to the point where it’s completely vague) when it is relayed to the entire team. Being completely open with your teammates about all issues and objectives the organization is dealing with is essential for “team-buy-in.” If your team members don’t feel like they can be trusted with company information (especially any failures the leadership has committed) then they won’t be motivated to tackle challenges when they present themselves. There are numerous techniques today that can help you get started on initiatives to increase team motivation. As a team leader, it should be something that is on your radar at all times.

When it comes to getting things done, follow the “Four D’s.” 

The best article I’ve stumbled upon on this topic is here. I won’t go over all four D’s, what I will do, is go over the importance of delegation. Delegating tasks is by far the greatest and most important skill a leader must have if they want to get anything done. Once you have a team, and they’ve become motivated, the next step should be how well can you prepare them to execute a task. How effective is your organization right now? What can you do to increase your productivity tenfold? Are there any mitigating factors that are stopping your team from getting there right now? These are questions I ask myself on a weekly basis as I plan my goals for the week. The hardest part of managing a team is understanding which team member can handle a certain set of tasks. It always helps when team members ask for specific tasks without you having to announce them; these team members have a natural instinct for detecting the needs of the organization as a whole as well as understanding what they are capable of completing. Delegation for me is quite simple, I follow two basic rules:

 

  • Delegate tasks to people who want to do them.

  • Never set the deadline yourself.

 

Always make sure the tasks you assign people are something they actually want to do. This takes a tremendous amount of time requiring you to sit  down and listen to your team members. What do they complain about? Why are they a part of the team in the first place? Everyone has a goal in mind when they are working with you, there is a reason you were able to convince them to join you in your endeavors. Make sure you keep your ears on the ground, a great leader listens to all of their teammates. In addition, when giving a task to someone, make sure they set their deadlines. It took me a while to see the upside to this. When you set the deadline you don’t give your team room to breath (in the context of my work I find that whenever I give deadlines there are 1,000 other things going in their life). When you have them set their own deadlines it relieves stress on their part and if they honor their own commitments, they hold themselves accountable.

Meetings don’t equal productivity.

This is the most important lesson I have learned. No matter what happens, I have always made it a requirement  to follow this simple rule: always have an agenda for every meeting you attend. There should be absolutely no reason why you should meet with team members just to meet. If your team cannot produce actionable tasks after a meeting is conducted, then why was the meeting conducted in the first place? Meetings shouldn’t become part of the routine – there needs to be a reason for it to happen. You risk losing valuable working hours when conducting meetings that do not contribute to the vision of the company, tackle specific challenges that the team is currently facing, or addresses any internal conflicts the team may have.

Every team is different, but I do know that sticking to principles that your team defines as its priority, help steer it to success. Hopefully, one of these lessons resonates with you. Talk and share this article with your team, see what they think.

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