Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Identify Team Roles

Dr. Meredith Belbin identifies nine team roles that can help make up a balanced and effective team:

  • The Plant. The plant is the highly creative and unconventional member of a team. They tend to be strong in thinking outside the box, but their primary weakness is a tendency to be forgetful.
  • The Monitor-Evaluator (ME). This person is good at providing a logical and dispassionate view of the range of decisions before a team. They tend to have difficulties with being overly critical and slow-moving.
  • The Coordinator (CO). This employee (it may be you) helps the team to focus on goals and to delegate work effectively. They might either over-delegate or under-delegate and end up micromanaging.
  • The Resource Investigator (RI). This employee will tend to understand how your team’s work can best translate to the rest of the world. They will be good at understanding the competition and developing connections with others outside and inside the team framework, but they can have difficulties in following up on or getting in-depth information.
  • The Implementer. This role involves someone who is good at taking theory and putting it into practice. They try to find strategies on how to make an idea work in the most efficient manner. Implementers have difficulty considering alternative approaches and may be slow to give up on a favored idea.
  • Completer-Finishers. These team members excel at the end of a task. They make sure everything is functioning ideally. These employees act as a kind of quality control. Their strength -- having high standards -- can also be their weakness, in that they tend to be perfectionists.
  • Team workers (TW). These employees are really good at smoothing over the tensions and difficulties that come up when people are working hard on creative endeavors. They excel at working and playing with others, but they can be indecisive when it comes time to make team decisions about the best course of action.
  • Shapers. These employees act as a kind of engine for the team. They can effectively get others going and create momentum. Typically, shapers are highly-driven and enthusiastic individuals. Their weakness tends to be being overly aggressive and temperamental in their desire to get the team’s work done.
  • The Specialist. The specialist of the group might only know how to do one thing, but they are an expert at it. Their focus is narrow and in-depth, which can be both their strength and their weakness.

An ideal team will be balanced with all nine roles being expressed. Since many teams are smaller than nine people, you may find that different team members excel at multiple roles. When you identify a key strength in one of your employees, for example, an employee who is highly energetic, then you can help them fulfill one or more roles on your team. The energetic employee for example might be good at being a shaper as well as being a resource investigator. Someone who is highly critical can be either a completer-finisher or a monitor-evaluator or both.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, May 20, 2024

Identifying Team Strengths and Weaknesses

One of the most important activities that you will need to engage in as a leader is constantly assessing the state of your team, each individual employee, and yourself. Before you can put employees in positions to succeed, you have to have a good idea of what their strengths and weaknesses are. Here are some guidelines for how to assess team and team-member strengths and weaknesses:

  • Include other team members in the assessment process. Allow each member of the team a chance to identify their own and other team members’ strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, this can be done privately so that no team member develops resentment toward another for perceived unwarranted criticism. This also allows you to compare your assessment with others.
  • When an employee or the entire team experiences a failure or a success, try to identify why this came about and who was most responsible. In the case of failure, identifying the responsible person is not about casting blame, but it is about identifying what went wrong so that you know where and how to improve. When you are analyzing a success, however, it is good to give credit when someone other than yourself was particularly instrumental in that success.
  • Determine how consistently an employee performs in a given role. If that employee is consistently unsuccessful, try to find another opportunity and role for that employee to be successful. Identify the skills necessary for success in certain roles, and when an employee is consistently successful in a role, note these skills as part of that employee’s skill set. If an employee fails to perform consistently, you may also identify these skills as weaknesses in that particular employee.
  • Observe employees when they act alone or outside of the team structure in order to determine how their strengths and weaknesses might change in different contexts. Perhaps it is not a lack of a particular skill that is the weakness but an inability to apply that skill in a team setting or vice versa.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, May 13, 2024


It may seem as if openness is the same thing as honesty, but there is a bit more to it. Being open is a two-fold characteristic. On the one hand, you want to be up front about your vision for your team, your plan for their success, and even, when appropriate, what changes may be in store. Sometimes you may be in a position of knowing something that’s going to happen, and the circumstances won’t allow you to inform your employees. However, if employees sense that something is about to happen, they can feel anxious. Since changes in work can affect a person’s livelihood, this anxiety cannot be overlooked or dismissed. Try to engage in empathy about the effect of keeping information from your employees. This can get tricky when trying to strike a balance between the needs of your employees and your bosses, but if you are operating from your own personal mission statement and using your own core values, then making tough decisions can actually be emotionally rewarding in that you get an opportunity to make a decision that will make you proud.

The other aspect of openness is being open to employees’ feedback and criticism. They may not always be correct in their criticism or concerns, but respecting your employees means giving them a fair hearing. When someone comes to you with a problem concerning what you are doing or how you are doing things, listen carefully. If you feel yourself getting angry or defensive, it’s possible that the employee has struck a nerve. You may not be in a place where you can immediately acknowledge the employee’s criticism. If that’s the case, schedule a follow-up that will allow you time to assess the concern and what you can do about it. Recent studies have found that people appreciate vulnerability in others far more than an appearance of perfection or invincibility, so don’t be afraid to admit when you are wrong or mistaken. This can actually make you a more respected and effective leader than if you demand respect by never apologizing or acknowledging your mistakes.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, May 6, 2024


Making yourself available to your employees is another vital aspect of building trust. This can be tricky, however, and you have to use good judgment in determining how available you need to make yourself in order to avoid micromanaging. Nevertheless, you should always allow some time where employees can approach you. If an employee feels you are unapproachable or feels intimidated, this can create a situation in which you are the last to know about something important going on. While you want to encourage employees not to rely too heavily on you, you also want employees to feel they can come to you when they need to do so. Striking the correct balance can take time and can vary from employee to employee. Some employees may develop better confidence in themselves by being left to their own devices. Others, particularly new employees, might need your presence a bit more, but it’s best to think of yourself in this situation as being like training wheels on a bicycle. At some point, the training wheels need to come off. Even then; however, your employees will trust you more knowing that you will figuratively "catch them if they fall" by being supportive and constructive.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, April 29, 2024


In addition to being honest, an effective leader will earn trust by being reliable in everything they do. Conversely, if a leader proves to be unreliable, employees will not trust them. This makes it vital to follow through on everything you say. If you indicate that there is a boundary that employees should not cross, you must address it when that boundary is crossed, even if it is with a mild response such as “don’t do that again.” If you say you will give an employee certain requested time off, then you must follow through. If you tell an employee you will follow up, then it is vital to follow up. Being reliable also means being consistent. Ignoring one employee’s misdeeds or successes is as bad as ignoring every employee’s success or misdeed. In some ways, it is even worse because it can communicate a sense of favoritism. The level of pressure and the amount of work you have before you may make it impossible to meet every one of your commitments. However, you can lessen this reality through adopting the following suggestions:

  • Keep a well-organized planner, either a calendar or some sort of organizing system in which you can write down your commitments. Make a point to acknowledge your receipt of employees’ requests in writing, but also remind employees that you must have requests in writing as well.
  •  Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. If you aren’t sure if you can award time off, don’t tell the employee that you can. One of the most important things you can tell an employee yet one of the most difficult is that you don’t know or you are not sure. While you may fear that this will undermine your employee’s confidence in you, you can counter this with a statement that you will find out. Make sure that you follow-up, however, if you do make that promise.

If you find that you are unable to meet a previous obligation that you made, make sure that you inform the other person as soon as possible. Sometimes an emergency can come up, or the situation can change. You don’t need to offer a full explanation most of the time (although in some cases it may be necessary and appreciated), but you do need to let the other person know as soon as you know. If you have a meeting with an employee scheduled but cannot make it, try to reschedule it as soon as possible.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, April 22, 2024

Earning Trust and Success

Aces in Their Places

One more aspect of delegation can help limit your anxiety. You must delegate in a proper manner. Delegating tasks blindly or randomly can turn disastrous if the person to whom you have delegated a task  is not suited to that task. Fortunately, one reward of getting to know your employees is that you can better understand each employee's strengths and weaknesses. By tailoring the tasks you delegate to your employees’ strengths, you put them in a better position to succeed, and their success is ultimately your success, even when you inevitably give them all the credit. By putting your aces in their places, you also foster a sense of belonging and importance to each member of your team. If an employee knows that they are in that role because you handpicked them for it, this will pay huge dividends in that person’s own confidence which helps to maximize their performance.

Celebrating Success

In order to get the most out of your employees, it is helpful to foster a culture of mutual celebration of success, and no success is too small to escape such celebration. Take time out to recognize a job well done, and you will encourage additional successes. Cultivating certain emotions in your employees such as enthusiasm, optimism, confidence, and tenacity will help them to perform better and enjoy further successes. 

Earning the Trust of Your Team

Avoiding micromanagement, delegating tasks properly, and celebrating successes are all ways to increase your high regard and trust for your team, but trust is a two-way street. An effective leader is one whom the followers will trust implicitly. Trust, like respect, does not come automatically. Some people may be naturally inclined to trust people, but the degree of trust you need to lead effectively must be earned.  


The most important way to earn trust is to consistently be honest. This can even be helpful when admitting you are wrong or that you don’t know the answer. Employees will respect someone who can admit vulnerability more than someone who tries to hide behind a veneer of perfection. Lying to your employees, buttering them up with fake sentiment, or taking credit for their successes are quick ways to make them distrust you. Once employees distrust you, your ability to lead them effectively becomes nearly impossible. However, honesty should never be used as a weapon. You may occasionally have to tell an employee “how it is,” but this is exactly where considerations of tone and intent become vitally important. 

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Monday, April 15, 2024

Delegation and Anxiety

What frequently stops us from delegating responsibilities to our employees is a fear that they may fail us. However, this distrust of our employees can be more damaging than failure itself. Living in fear keeps our lives in holding patterns, and we never grow or allow others to grow. There is no reason to be afraid of failure because it is inevitable. If, however, we are able to view failure as a learning opportunity, then we can become comfortable with the idea and learn to take risks. Here are some suggestions to help you manage your trepidation about delegation:

  • Write down your concerns rather than voicing them or allowing them to swirl in your head. This can help to vent anxieties.
  • Manage your stress levels through exercise. When you do this regularly, you will tend to feel better physically which gives emotions such as anxiety less room to take hold.
  • Meditate regularly to practice staying in the present. Worry is a future-oriented activity but one over which you have little control.
  • Appreciate and celebrate healthy progress over perfection. Our notion of a perfect situation, a perfectly performed task, or any other number of perfect things that we can imagine is actually a linguistic construction. Actual perfection is something that is completely beyond our control.
  • Learn to recognize and counteract magnification -- a distorted thinking pattern in which you imagine the worst possibility as the most likely possibility. Often, when you feel in the grips of an arousal emotion such as anxiety, you tend to think in shorthand and images rather than in complete sentences. Identifying this shorthand, converting it into complete sentences and investigating the logic of that can help lessen your feeling of anxiety. For example, when you delegate an important task to an employee, your anxiety over the situation might prompt shorthand thoughts such as “failure, disaster, poorhouse.” Translating this into a complete sentence might look like “If my employee fails, I will be blamed for the worst possible disaster that can occur at this company, and I will be fired.” Now that you have translated the shorthand into a complete sentence, ask yourself if you would truly be fired over this. Often, you wouldn’t have the level of responsibility you have if your boss was going to be so quick to fire you.

Until next time ...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP