What do I know?
Okay, you might be thinking what does a 24-year-old know about running a team of anything? Well, I’m not going to sit here and list off my experiences and things I’ve done because frankly, that’s boring. I’m going to share with you the 3 things that most help me when I’m running a team of anyone from a cheer squad to 300+ volunteers (because I do both). I think it’s safe to say we have all been part of projects/teams/groups/organizations that could never meet all of our expectations. Sometimes you’re stuck doing all the work, sometimes there are no clear expectations, maybe the leader doesn’t show up, or perhaps you’ve ended up quitting because it was so awful. Whatever the case, I’ve noticed that the more I consistently do these three fairly simple things the more engaged my team is and the higher outcome/results I see.
(Disclaimer I’m writing these while I’m devouring some nugs with honey and drinking a glass of wine. #TurntOnAWednesday #ImClassy)
1. Have your Gameplan and SHARE IT
Whether you’re leading a cheer practice or coordinating 30 different work sites for 300 volunteers your people will thank you (sometimes silently) for having your poop in a group. It is important to set the foundation (vision, goals, and expected outcome) and share it with everyone involved. You can’t expect someone to jump off a bridge if you don’t tell them how, when, and why to do it (Too harsh, maybe a bad example? You get the picture). For every practice, project, or event I am coordinating I use the below form. (Click Here to Download Tims Coordinating Sheet)
Though it may seem a bit tedious to do this for something mundane like a cheerleading practice I still make sure that I have this as filled out to the best of my ability before I show up and I make sure the girls know my expectations before they arrive too. I also add and delete questions constantly. Some people just need the template made for them (I found a somewhat sketch of this on my desk from like the 2010s) and I hope this can at least be a starting model for you.
2. Energy + Communication = Lit.
I always like to start any of my events with some kind of pep talk or hoorah! Even if it is just an email. It matters to the people you’re with to know that you care, you’re passionate, and you’re CRAZY excited to have them on board. In all realness, one of my favorite projects I’ve done in all the different positions I’ve been in is helping clean-up the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Permission to be real with you on the day that we did it? It was HOT. LOUISIANA HOT. (Ps. not in a good way) We took 8 hours to clean up yards, get rid of debris, and help one of the lower quadrants in New Orleans. I dreaded it and honestly contemplated being “sick” and staying in my hotel room. When we got there and met our site coordinator Charles, he greeted us with a chuckle and “Hoo-weee I ain’t never seen this many white folk in a bus before, we gonna get a lot of work done today.” I knew instantly no matter the weather I was going to enjoy working with Charles. I love humor especially paired with sarcasm. All it took from him was one statement and my mind was COMPLETELY changed. Now, know your audience I don’t think a statement quite like Charles’ could work in small-town Iowa but I think there are definitely situations that call for a nice joke or funny one-liner. (hopefully, I didn’t lose your interest in number 2 yet. I’m out of nugs and feel I might be rambling) Okay, so I hope I have you thinking about a time that you volunteered, did a work project, went to an event, or whatever and it was something more moving/rewarding than you had expected. Here is the key…I’ll give it for free. JUST REPLICATE WHAT THEY DID AND PUT YOUR OWN SPIN ON IT. (the wine kicked in…) Seriously though, I take most of my life like jazz music. If I like something I see, hear, or do I’m going to steal it and replicate it to the best of my ability.
3. Why Not?
I’m guilty of it. Yes, I do share the endings of our events, projects, and anything else with those closest to me and sometimes I stop there. BUT WHY?! Why not send a Thank-You card to the people who helped? Why not follow-up with the organization you volunteered at? I’ve had this “Why Not” phrase come into my life the past two months and it has been ABSOLUTELY life changing. I ask myself “Why Not?” when I come across something that I’ve not done before but have thought about doing. I’ve made some pretty incredible life changes in these two months and my energy, emotional, and mental health has never been higher. (Can’t tell if that’s because of Why Not or because I’ve agreed to drink Wine more regularly… but I only did that because I said: “why not”…) I think it is very easy to go through the end of project/event checklist. Release result press release, run a radio ad, send the blanket thank-you message to the entire team, and all the other meh ways of sharing results of our project/event. Every day after cheer practice I go back through my goals and give my feedback on them. How we got there if there was a struggle, and how we did or didn’t overcome the obstacle. I go another step and keep their parents in the loop not only via email but also through text. With my professional life, I write my thank-you’s before the event even happens so I can put them in the mail the night before the event. I also send individual emails that are personalized to each leader and depending on team size to individual team members. The small gestures of an email, thank-you card, or even a call can make a significant impact on that person. (Bonus they’re also more likely to be involved with you again)
In Conclusion (I’m out of nugs and I’m cut off from wine)
Are these the only three things involved in leading a successful team? NO. This list could have very easily been 10 or more items. These are just the three that when it comes down to brass-tax I’m going to do, and will always deliver on. It’s important to keep all of these and more in mind when it comes to our team. It won’t always be sunshine and rainbows and it isn’t supposed to be. Expect and plan for failure. Success doesn’t happen without it.
Thanks for reading. If you have questions/comments/suggestions please write one below or send them to me @ firstname.lastname@example.org! – Tim G. 🙂