Seven tips to make your team better and your job easier.
For newcomers, in the past twocolumns I’ve been sharing some “how I do it” info about my running a guild of 49 other folks in a cellphone-game (upon which I probably spend too much of my free time)-And likening it to some aspects of how you might lead a successful group of folks in an employment or other team-type of situation, such as a group of rads.
I’ve already gone over why these two things are more alike than you think, along with the importance of getting the right people, so now I’m going to focus on what’s probably the most important aspect of it all: Making them want to stick around and be happy they joined.
Priority one is communication. If you don’t have that squared away, there’s probably no amount of other stuff you can do that will make up for it. You need to have reliable means of getting information out there, and to know that it’s reaching the eyes and ears of your team members. And you need to use it routinely. Err on the side of making announcements that everyone knows, rather than risk someone forgetting because he had something on his mind.
It’s so important, in fact, that I’m going to make it the second priority, too. Because the communication needs to go both ways. It doesn’t matter how egalitarian or steeply hierarchical your outfit is: If the members of your team know they can get ahold of you (or anyone else in the organization) when necessary, they’re going to be happier and function better. It can be anything from a crisis to a suggestion for mutual benefit to an idle curiosity.
And no, it doesn’t count if they can send you emails or leave voicemails but you never actually respond (especially since they should know they won’t be able to get away with such behavior themselves).
3. Actively seek out the opinions of your team members
This is related to the last point. Seeking out team members can be in anything from a formal meeting to an occasional “how’s everything going” call or email. They’ll feel engaged, maybe even respected, and you’ll get a heads-up as to things that might need addressing.
When you do act on those opinions (and you should, more than once in a blue moon), make sure that everyone sees this evidence that, yes, their input really does matter.
4. Lead from the front
This means that you visibly do what you’re asking of the rest of the team, rather than sitting back and being all talk.
If there’s a backlog of cases to be read, make sure you’re visibly getting at least as much as everyone else. Extra hours to be covered because someone’s sick or unavoidably away? You’re just as likely to be in the back-up role as anyone else is. Let nobody see you as a “do as I say, not as I do” type.
Up next: 3 more tips to form a better team...
5. Help each other
Create a culture of helping one another out. This is a great way to lead by example. Is someone swamped, and you’re relatively caught up? Go over and bail them out and encourage other members of the team to behave similarly.
Make it everyone’s expectation that they can turn to one another for case consultations when they need an assist. What was your fellowship in? You can be the go-to maven for that subspecialty.
6. Maintain mutual resources
A mutual reference could be a helpful reference area on your group’s website, for example. It might include a link on everyone’s workstation, full of normal-range values, common differential diagnoses, various grading schemes, the latest set of Fleischner guidelines.
And, whenever someone goes looking for something that’s not yet there, make it easy for that team-member to either personally add it or put out the request for someone else to do it who knows the subject.
7. Promote and delegate
Highlight those team members who exhibit interest, industry, and innovation. Team-members who self-select to put themselves out there for everyone else’s benefit should be encouraged. They’ll champion causes they feel strongly about, and/or have particular skills to deal with. Again, they’ll feel more engaged, and others will see potential for themselves to similarly grow into bigger roles. (And, just maybe, you’ll have a bit less on your plate to deal with.)