Team Development: Keeping Your Team Positive and Engaged
Your example and approach can have a positive effect.
In part one of this series on team development, the focus was on ways to inspire your team members so they feel great about coming to work and giving their best. Part two looked at how to draft and retain your dream team and increase productivity. Now, in part three, the emphasis is on keeping your team focused so staff can continue to connect with and engage members and stay creative and productive.
When your dream team is happy, attitudes are positive and team members are friendly, open and welcoming. They get along well with each other, and they take the time to engage with class participants and facility members. It’s a positive environment where people show up ready, willing and excited to put in a good day at work and give their best. Your team is dedicated and inspired.
It’s a lot easier to work with people who are open to finding solutions rather than seeing every difficult situation as a problem. It’s also more productive for team members to be proactive than to be in a constant state of damage control, which is extremely reactive. Keeping the vibe positive is a personal choice that each individual makes. An optimistic and upbeat person tends to look at the bright side of each situation.
But what if the team’s attitude shifts and people start to grumble about feeling dissatisfied, unfulfilled, underused or unappreciated? And what if your clients experience a decline in customer service because of this change in attitude? How do you turn things around?
Keep Your Team Inspired
To keep your team inspired, positive and engaged, build a strong rapport with each individual. Put extra effort into the following:
- taking the time to acknowledge hard work and initiative
- finding ways to connect and really get to know each team member
- being accessible when team members have needs or concerns
- providing all the information that team members need in order to perform their jobs effectively
- recognizing effort, because people find recognition very motivating
These five actions, along with the strategies listed in part one of this series (“Team Development: Re-Inspire Your Staff,” March 2012) will help keep your team inspired. Still, while these good strategies may work 99% of the time, situations and circumstances do arise that may lead to a breakdown in team dynamics.
Address Shifts in Attitude
When teams struggle—for whatever reason—their attitudes can adversely affect how customers are treated. I remember a period when my team’s mood shifted. I sensed that team members were becoming dissatisfied about some small organizational changes that were taking place. Although I was surprised by the dissatisfaction, I saw how it affected their interactions with each other and how it influenced the quality of the service they provided. The team became less proactive, and individuals grew increasingly unenthusiastic about their roles.
How were we going to turn the team’s attitude around? First, it was vital to listen to the team’s concerns and understand where they were coming from. It was also necessary to address the cause of the problem and involve the team directly. If you find yourself faced with a negative change in your team’s attitude, consider applying these strategies, which worked for me:
See Opportunity in Every Challenge
Many challenges are unexpected and are out of management’s control. A last-minute cancellation, a fitness instructor calling in sick or a co-worker who’s stuck in traffic and will now be late for work—these are all examples of common yet unpredictable challenges. We can’t control these situations, but we can control our reaction to them. We can choose to look for proactive solutions and stay positive, or we can choose to react negatively and see only the problem. It’s all a matter of choice. Teach yourself (and your team) to look at these situations as opportunities for growth.
For example, a last-minute cancellation might give you unexpected time to provide some continuing education or fit in a workout of your own. A sick instructor might provide an opportunity for a new instructor to do more practice teaching. And if a co-worker is going to be late, that delay might provide welcome time to catch up on paperwork or projects.
Stay Positive Toward Each Other
When we interact, our attitude often sets the tone for how we treat a person. For example, someone who acts in a defensive or rude manner might have received bad news or have just been dealing with an unrelated, upsetting situation. Because that person was defensive or rude, you might be dismissive and not offer help. Instead, try giving such a customer “the benefit of the doubt.”
Maybe you don’t have a lot in common with other members of your team, or your work ethic differs from theirs, or you disagree with their decisions or perspective. Keep in mind that while it isn’t necessary to like everyone, it is vital to keep a positive attitude and treat people with respect. Remind your team (and set the example yourself) that being respectful of other team members is a way of recognizing their contribution to the team—even if you don’t agree with everything they say or do.
Create a Culture of Gratitude
Teach your team the value of taking the time to say “thank you.” Things to be grateful for are all around; we just need to take the time to look for them. When we learn to give thanks, we learn to concentrate on the positive. Having a positive attitude prompts us to think about the good instead of the bad, which creates a positive cycle of behavior. It doesn’t take much time out of your day to write a thank-you note to a co-worker who taught your class when you were sick or covered your shift while you were stuck in traffic. These little gestures go a long way toward building a positive culture.
Take this concept of expressing gratitude and allow it to trickle down to club members and class participants. Thank them for their business. Express how grateful you are that they chose your facility, your class or your personal training session.
Customers will feel the positive vibe and shift in mood. Staff will look for solutions when problems arise, and they’ll be patient, thoughtful and empathetic because they will be solution-oriented. They will exhibit a more positive attitude toward even the most difficult club member, remembering that everyone has value.
The Right Attitude
It’s much easier for people to connect with each other when they’re surrounded by positive energy. Your dream team is the nucleus of this effort, and its members need to be nurtured daily. As their leader, you must model a positive attitude. From it, your team will carry that message to the facility’s members and will continue to engage and connect.
Attitude is the criterion for success, not only personally but in business as well. While pessimists invite the negative outcome they expect, confident people with a great attitude will increase their chances for success.
Just as a bad attitude can spread like wildfire, so can a great attitude. Your role as the leader of the dream team is to value, appreciate and recognize all your team members so that they in turn will do the same to others.
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