Two big factors determine how much your team will grow in results. Don’t get me wrong, there are a hundred other aspects to effective team management and productivity, but these two lead the way in any group and any industry.
The two factors are:
The leader’s personal growth and knowledge level
The team members’ personal growth and knowledge levels
Your mind may already be coming up with arguments. What about vision? Effective advertising? Supply and demand? Communication strategy? Surely some things are more important than personal growth?
Yes… all of those things matter. They just take a backseat to the growth and skills of the people.
Let’s look at an example. Do you remember Blockbuster video? In 2004, they were the giants in their industry. They had 9000 stores, 60,000 employees, and millions of customers. Then the industry started to change, bringing Netflix and Redbox into the market. The founder of Netflix met with the CEO of Blockbuster and offered an affiliation that would serve both companies, but Blockbuster took their ball and went home.
Even though the CEO of Blockbuster, John Antioco, a man known for turning fledgling businesses around, saw the change coming and sought to adapt, he was voted out. A few years later, Blockbuster was bankrupt.
The flaw was relying on what they knew, what they were used to, rather than seeking to learn a new way—to grow and gain a new knowledge set. The leader of any company has to continue to grow and learn of course. That’s a responsibility well agreed upon, and a responsibility the former CEO of Blockbuster would have happily taken on had he been given the chance.
Back to the main point though…
Helping an organization’s people grow is an underrated necessity for organizational success long-term.
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch
Unless leaders plan to do everything themselves, forever, they need to develop competent team members. I believe finding the right people will always be the toughest part of any business or organization. And keeping them is the second challenge.
These days, people leave jobs or groups when they no longer feel they are progressing. When they stop seeing how trading their time and energy is benefitting them. Even for work, money isn’t enough. Studies show that people want much more than just earning a paycheck. Especially if they are talented and have options as to what company or group they can choose to be a part of.
We all want those types of people on our teams—the hard working, caring for others, trustworthy, sharp, and focused people. When you are fortunate enough to find them, it will take more than a paycheck to keep them. You must help them continue to progress. And if you’re a volunteer organization, you don’t have money as a tool, so you really need to help them grow.
They are much more likely to stay when they’re growing. When they can see how being part of your team helps them in some way. We feel good when we are improving, and feelings count for a lot. If they see that growth helping them in other areas of their lives—their relationships, their schooling, their career, or their personal goals—it’s a powerful retention tool.
Retaining team members serves the organization. The better they get at the business of your team, the better they can serve those you help and the less time you’ll spend supervising or micromanaging.
You can up-level every result in your organization by up-leveling the knowledge and skillsets of your team. You serve them, and they serve the team goals. And when they are ready, they become leaders themselves and begin growing others. At that point, your organization takes on a self-reproducing culture that serves everyone long-term even if/when those leaders you helped create move on.