Did you know that your team at work already has a brand? What do you think it might be? Do you think you’d like it if you knew what it was?
When other people think of your team, they almost certainly have a thought that pops into their head. It might be great- you might be the ‘reliable’ or ‘star’ team. You might be quite specialist, like the team who everyone knows has some IT whizzes, or the team you’d go to get some help writing a speech.
You could also be known for something a bit more dubious, like the ‘sociable’ team because you’re always chatting, or even something quite negative, like the ‘lazy’ team, or the ‘dead weight’ team. (Let’s hope not- but you can always turn it around even if it is.)
If you work remotely and are wondering if this still applies to your team….yes, remote teams still have a brand. It’s often a little harder to create, but we’ll address how to do that in a minute.
The point is: as the team leader, you need to be in control of the team brand. Your ‘brand’ is what gives you power in the organisation, it makes the senior execs take notice, and gets your team assigned the most exciting and lucrative projects. Teams with positive brands don’t get broken up and their star performers reassigned, while teams with negative or mediocre brands languish at the bottom of the organisation with less resources and recognition to improve. Let’s face it: ‘brand’ perception within the workplace is also what drives promotions, salary increases and bonuses.
It’s important to stand out as something positive.
So, it’s time to think.
How do you want your team to be thought of?
Hint: when coming up with your brand goals, remove yourself from the equation as much as possible. This is not about covering yourself in glory and making the team reflect you in a great way, it is about the team’s brand as a whole. (Don’t worry, when it works, you’ll have the glory anyway.)
Consider what niche the company needs you to fill.
Consider which existing skills in your team could be honed to make you specialists in something.
How are you going to communicate that vision to your team?
Involve them! You will only get real engagement with this project if you tell the team what you’re aiming to do and why.
Find out what they think their brand is now.
Then find out what they’d like to be known for as a team. (You’ll also gain some interesting perspective on their individual motivations and potential.)
Ask them what their specialist skills are that they’d like to improve, and how they can do that at the same time as maintaining the skills they already have.
Don’t be shy in telling them the benefits of having a positive team brand. If you know that it leads to better projects, bonuses and promotions, make sure they understand that too.
Is this the same if it’s a virtual team?
Yes it is. The physical distance needs to be worked around that’s all. You will need a plan and strategy around how and when you communicate. Online chat rooms and skype are vital to ensure communication channels remain fully open.
The steps are the same- find out everyone’s thoughts and aspirations on skills they’d like to build. You might have to work a little more to get everyone to open up to you- but as a team-building exercise, this works incredibly well.
As a manager, you’re here to bring out the best in your team as individuals while moving them towards a shared goal. Do the work now, and enjoy that moment when people start to notice that your team definitely has a brand and one that’s a role model to others in the organisation.
Until next time,