Maintaining your Team: Will a little WD 40 and Duct Tape do the trick?

images-1Maintenance. I was reminded of this word over the weekend as I washed my car. The grit and grime of the winter season had taken its toll on every inch of my vehicle. As I scrubbed the tires, I was reminded how easily things (anything really) can get out of hand without regular upkeep and care.
For some, it is health. Perhaps it’s your house. Or even some it can be finances. For leaders, it may well be your team.

While the first quarter briskly moves along, your team, no doubt, is off and running in pursuit of its 2013 goals. And therein lies the potential danger. For leaders working in any type of organization, the real secret is to not let the first quarter get away from you without essential team maintenance. So what does this look like?

I have borrowed the benefits of two well-known repair tools to get you started: WD 40 and duct tape. These two items have multiple uses. In fact, click these two links to see specific uses for WD 40 and duct tape. Is your brain buzzing yet?

It starts with a plan.Does your team know what your organization or department hopes to achieve in 2013? If not, you have to start there. Let them know what a successful 2013 looks like. What will revenues, profit, new customer relationships, new services or products look like? And more importantly, how does each team member’s role help those goals become a reality? It’s not too late to have that “state of the department” speech. But wait! Your job isn’t over just yet. Maintenance means follow up and attention. Each month let your team know how they are doing. Break your year into units: annual, quarterly and monthly. This dashboard keeps everyone informed and in the loop.

Use WD 40 to “un-stick” those behaviors that impede your team’s success.Humans by nature are prone to slip into unproductive habits. We like routine and let’s face it, over time poor behaviors can sneak in and set up a “home” and negatively impact results. Those habits can be anything from habitual tardiness to missed deadlines. So what is your WD40 weapon? It’s you! Integrate quick “check-ins” with each person each week. Get updates on deadlines, co-worker dynamics, and needs/wants from you. After all, it’s much easier to stop a bad habit before it starts.

Use duct tape to secure behaviors that help your team achieve success.There is a powerful dynamic at play when each member of a team is showing up and doing his/her part toward a goal. More is accomplished and momentum builds that positively impact your team’s energy and engagement. These are the behaviors you want to “cement” in your team. So leaders, be the “duct tape” and ensure your team comes together on a regular basis (in person or virtually) and talk about what is working and not working in the team. Most importantly, give them what they need from you (information, time, removing barriers) to sustain that momentum.

I encourage you to visit your nearest hardware store and buy a can of WD 40 and a roll of duct tape. The visual (dirt and grime on my car) reminded me it was time for a little maintenance. That visual did the trick for me. Who knows, perhaps these two items will do the trick for you too.

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