Sometimes what a team needs is creating a small little habit. Asking others for help goes a long way in creating glue between the team members.A short story on how I recently helped a small leadership group that was anything but a team. Although they all got along very well, they were simply working alongside one another rather than with each other. They were not ready for a big two-day team session so I recommended to start with the basics: a weekly team huddle of no more than 30 minutes. In the team huddle each shares with the others something really great that had happened in their scope the previous week, and updates them briefly on the progress on their priorities. No Powerpoints or meeting room tables: the huddle happens standing up in the open space, visible to the others in the organization. In the last part of the team huddle the team leader asks who needed help from anyone else in the coming days or weeks to be successful in their priorities.
The team huddle went well and created a very basic but regular exchange where people learned about what was going on in the others’ areas. But the interesting development happened with the last part of the team huddle. The first team huddles, when the team leader asked if anyone needed help, there was awkward silence, fiddling of empty hands, and soft but unconvinced whispers of “no, thanks …”. And then in the fourth team huddle, John spoke up “Yes, in fact, I would like Susan to help me with …”. The huddle ended and John and Susan walked off and started to discuss the issue John was struggling with. The ice was broken and in the next team huddle, there were multiple requests for help. The final part of the huddle, which at first had been an uncomfortable way of concluding the session, became the way the team connections started to form. Soon, people were going to see the others in between sessions, not to talk about their priorities, but to ask others for help.
Asking for help is a powerful glue to start building a team. You cannot mandate it, but as a leader, you can model it. And when you ask someone for help, do so in front of others. If you want to build a team, start small !