Everyone has a story, with experiences that shape their values and views on life.
I have been an Operations Supervisor/Manager for 20+ years in the Logistics and Warehousing industry. I was fortunate to serve my country in the U.S. Army where I began to learn the importance of leadership and teamwork. I am also a father of two and a husband. I have coached little league sports for nine years while my son and daughter were growing up. These life experiences helped me to understand that teamwork is essential for everything in life. Whether it is dealing with a family situation, participating in a team sport, hosting social functions, or even in the workplace, teamwork is at the center of success and growth. That is not to say that an individual cannot achieve greatness, but that foundation of teamwork and the essential support of a team is what helps them to succeed. I have been very fortunate in my years to be a part of many great teams, whether as a participant or leader. It is the ability to succeed and push through conflict that often helps draw out some of the best individuals and teams.
Key Pillars to Teamwork:
Communication is the most important pillar in any relationship, whether it be personal or professional. Communication in principle needs to go both ways – or in business, up and down the ladder. A common mistake that individuals in leadership roles make is that they assume that delegation is communication. The misconception is that if they need a task to be done, then all they need do is tell their subordinates to complete said task, and the task will be completed. That is not the case in most situations, as a leader should explain not only the expectations of the request but also the purpose of it. The more information that a team member has, the more valuable and invested they become. The reverse can be said for communication up the ladder, as more common than not individuals feel uncomfortable or afraid to ask for more information from their leaders. In this case, the result is they do not meet the expectations of the request due to a lack of clarity. By getting clarification on any tasks, it helps open up a dialogue with their leaders and create a more open path of communication for future projects and thus strengthening that relationship. The same can be said with your peers, as open communication helps build teams.
Understanding is needed between all parties that are involved in any venture. We all come from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, and to work together we need to have a basic understanding of (and respect for) each other. That is not to say that we all have to “like” each other and get to know everyone on a personal level, but it does mean that we need to have a better understanding of our teammates. This understanding will also assist leaders in communicating with their teams and ensuring the message is delivered via the best method possible. In turn, the team members will gain an understanding of their leaders’ methodology, reasonings, directions, or requests. Understanding each other will also help resolve the conflicts that could arise in a productive and respectful manner.
Accountability is the one pillar that everyone agrees is needed, and yet no one wants to enforce or have it enforced on them. Accountability is essential in any team, and for all team members. The key to accountability is to eliminate favoritism in all forms and ensure there is a clear understanding of the task/rules/policies/expectations. A company’s attendance policy is a common point of contention within a team. As with all policies, any exception sets precedence. You can make exceptions on an individual basis as long as you make those exceptions available to ALL members of the team. Situations happen unexpectedly and being flexible helps strengthen the team. However, something like this needs to be controlled to be effective. Individual team members also need to do a better job of holding themselves accountable in instances like this, as not being there for your team when expected is not being accountable to your team. Teamwork helps foster accountability on many levels, as you commit to your team.
I say learning instead of training because anyone can train - but to be a great team member, you need to want to learn what is needed and why. Often training is completed more out of necessity or policy and is always someone else’s responsibility. Being part of a team means taking ownership of yourself and making sure that you learn everything you can to be an asset to the team. You should not only want to learn your role but those of the team members around you. Team members that understand the impact they have on other team members, the business, and your customers are the team members that stand out. Knowledge of the process, flow, or purpose will make the team stronger.
If you aren’t having fun then why bother? When participating in a sport or social engagement you try to enjoy yourself. Why not do the same in a business environment? Not everyone gets along all of the time and the definition of “work” is not necessarily thought of in the same terms as fun. Sometimes to just attempt the interjection of a little levity in the workplace will brighten those around you and help improve the team’s engagement. “Time flies when you are having fun”, so why not try to have some fun? This is also a case of “Lead by example”, regardless of your position on the team encouraging others to do the same. Morale goes both ways in a team, so try to bring your team(s) up and not down. They say a smile is contagious.
These five pillars are what I believe help a team grow and become more successful. Those that have known me both personally and professionally know that I have tried to live by all five, regardless of whether it was in my personal life, sports, or business. Knowing that I am not perfect, and these five pillars are not always easy to follow, but by continuing to try to foster these concepts - I believe that I will grow as a team leader and teammate in all that I do.
This past year has been challenging for all as we try to deal with the COVID-19 Pandemic across the globe. Businesses being forced to shut down either temporarily or permanently have put stress on the economy and individuals’ personal lives. Everyone has an opinion on how things could have or should have been handled. However, that is not what I want to touch base on. I want to call out how proud I am of the team that we have here at Complemar. We have had to endure the ups and downs of the Pandemic, inside and outside the workplace. Their continuous efforts and dedication as a team makes me want to push through and be a better team member. I want to continue to provide excellent service not only to my external customers but also for them… the team that makes it happen every day! The Complemar TEAM.