Business is rife with sports metaphors and for good reason. Business, while a contact sport – is also a team sport. Very few, if any, businesses make it big – or make it at all – without the efforts of all the players on the team. However, when building a company culture and brand – and developing the programs and initiatives that support that culture – you need to know what team you play for.
Ask most managers who’s on their team and they will begin to list off their direct reports – their supervisors, associates, etc. While these folks are on their team – it’s not the team they play for.
Let me explain. As a manager you “own” a team – a group of people who work together to achieve specific goals and objectives you’ve set out for them. They are your team. But you’re the manager – not a player.
The team you play for is the team made up of others in the same position/level as you in the company.
You have a horizontal team – the one you play for, and you have a vertical team – the one that plays for you.
Managers often spend all their time worrying about the team that plays for them. They build programs to reinforce the culture of “their” team – to reward efforts for moving the needle, “on their team.” But unfortunately, those efforts will be for naught if the team they play for isn’t in alignment with the team that plays for them.
As a manager, you need to make sure that your team is lined up with all the other teams in the company and doing its part to advance the overall objectives of the team you play on.
In most sports the individual teams vie for the top spot – Superbowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, etc. However, in business, the individual teams have to work on two axes. The first axis is their own team and the second axis is the company team. It’s as if all the teams in the National League for baseball worked together to have a better record than all the teams in the American League. The winner being the league – not the individual teams.
The individual department and division reward, recognition and incentive programs must align with your specific needs, but they must also mesh with the needs of the other members of the team you play on. Don’t forget – you support your bosses’ team and your team supports you.
There’s nothing wrong with working to have the team that plays for you be the best it can be – that’s your goal. But you need to pay attention to the team you play for and work with the other members of your team to come up with the best strategy to maximize the outcome of all of their individual teams, as well.
Paul Hebert is Vice President of Individual Performance Strategy at Creative Group Inc, writer, speaker and consultant. Paul focuses on influencing behaviors and driving business results through employees, channel partners and consumers. He is dedicated to creating true emotional connections often overlooked in our automated, tech-enabled world. Using proven motivational theory, behavioral economics and social psychology he has driven extraordinary company performance for his clients. Paul is widely considered an expert on motivation, incentives, and engagement.