9 Top Tips to Tune Teams

We love this blog post from our motivational partner, James sale from Motivational maps.  if you pick up just one tip from this it will be worthwhile

Everyone who runs a business, or is in sport, or simply is involved with various types of charity or voluntary groups – hey, even who has a family! – wants to know how to tune a team and make the team more effective. So here are my nine top tips. I say tips but rules may be a better word. But before giving them to you we ought to ask a more profound question: namely, not how do we make superior teams, but why are teams important in the first place?

There are three compelling reasons why teams are important. First, because the acronym T.E.A.M. says so! This stands for Together Each Achieves More and therein lies the essence of teams: their synergy. A group of five people might have the arithmetic strength of 1+1+1+1+1, which is 5, but a team of five people has the geometrical strength of 1x2x3x4x5, which is 120! Teams vastly outperform groups.

Second, teams are important because you – yes, I mean you – are not immortal: you will die, or retire, or resign, or transfer, or at some point leave the group of which you are member. At that point who takes over? Who succeeds? Teams ensure some genuine form of succession planning, and thus secure a legacy to the work that you have done. That’s important isn’t it?

Finally, teams are important because, well, because they feel good. That’s right. When you survey the arc of your life and ask what were the great experiences, being in the office isn’t usually one of them. Falling in love is; family and friends are; and being part of a great team is always an unforgettable experience – we were there and for each other.

With this in mind then, we can review, briefly, my nine top tips to tune a team. Tip one: be more motivated than they are. People are crying out to be led and it is down to the team leader to do that leading – and the amount of energy, of motivation, that they bring to that task has an inordinate impact on the morale and attitudes of the team. Ultimately, the team’s motivation will fall below your own level, and if yours is persistently low, then the team is in trouble.

Two, repeat this mantra every time you encounter dysfunctional behaviour: ‘Excuse me, Sam, are we team or a group here?’ and keep doing it. They will be shocked, amazed and uncomprehending. Do not stay for an answer to the question, but as you hasten away mumble something like, ‘I thought we were supposed to be a team’. This will engender worry, doubt and uncertainty in the dysfunctional players; choose your moment to enlighten them.

And to do that, you need to – three – understand the difference between a team and a group and keep going on about it. A group is just that – a group. If the whole staff of Tescos entered your business premisses, then your group would still be just that – a group, only a bigger one! No, a team is very different: it has a reason, a mission or an objective; it is interdependent on each other; it believes in teams; and finally it is accountable to each other and to the wider organisation. Be clear about this.

Four, be also clear and understand that two words are mutually exclusive: these two words are ‘team’ and ‘hierarchy’. You’ll know that there’s too much hierarchy in your organisation when you find everyone agrees with your views and deference is the norm. Group-think beckons!

Five, we spoke of the team’s first defining quality: the reason, the mission or the objective. So, clarify the objective(s). For most people and groups work is an activity of which 80% or more is wasted time; buy-in to clear, specific objectives is the antidote to this waste and the foundation of strong team performance.

With that in mind, ensure time is spent negotiating roles. One good question is: ‘how do I contribute to the objective?’ And here’s an even better one for the superior team: ‘how can I contribute to the objective?’

Seven, ensure you oil the machine. This follows from tip six: a too rigid pursuit of objectives, of what I call the ‘content’, always leads to disintegration, as even the most powerful engine will burst apart if it is not oiled properly. Oiling, in team terms, is paying attention not just to the objectives but to the process. A favourite question I have for senior teams is: ‘how do you interact with each other?’ The answer speaks volumes.

Eight: avoid blame and drive out fear. People will not give their best, or be creative, or solve pressing business problems, if they feel that making a mistake is going to have dire consequences. Blame is always destructive. Stop doing it.

Finally, tip nine: ensure accountability to the wider organisation. So far the tips have largely focused on getting the team in the right – the peak – condition to perform. But there is a danger: the silo effect, the fiefdom and empire building scenarios, wherein successful teams become detached from the wider organisation and exist to promote only themselves. This needs to be prevented at source by proper accountability controls and incentives.

Take these ideas and use them. You will find they have a major impact on your teams and so on your productivity and profitability.

About James Sale

motivation and mentoring guru, creator of Motivational Maps

James has had 17 years of intensive experience in training and mentoring people, and helping them and their organisations realise their full potential.

He is passionate about learning, about sharing his learning and experience, and about others seeing what they can truly achieve. His training and mentoring sessions are memorable: they motivate, excite and empower everyone who has the pleasure of experiencing them.

He is a Member of the Institute of Directors, an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and a member of the Society of Authors.

See the link for James Sale opposite




Engage Executive Plant an Orchard!

This week saw Engage’s Lucy York, join Seeker News at the stunning National Trust site of Kingston Lacy, to help recreate an orchard that once grew alongside the kitchen gardens of the house.

Elaine Arnold from the National Trust gets digging!

It’s a great community project that also gives local businesses the chance to get involved, and Engage with the Trust…

Lucy’s all planted up and waiting for the day she can make apple crumble from the fruits of her labour.


Executive Stress and How to Deal With It

Stress affects us all, and sometimes it’s hard to know the best way to deal with it whilst trying to carry on with your day, and not letting your own stress adversely effect those around you, hence making your professional life all the more tense.

Many of our clients at Engage Executive Jobs tell us they moved to Dorset to help escape the pressure cooker that can sometimes come with living in a big city.  But, living and working in an area surrounded by beautiful countryside with miles and miles of golden sand doesn’t make our executive recruitment partners, immune to feelings of stress. 

Sharon McDowell-Larson writes about how to deal with executive stress in  Forbes.com and we think everyone, executive or not, should take some of these tips on board.  Read the full article in Forbes here

Computer says, ‘no’! – How applicant vetting software means upping your game.

At Engage, we take pride in getting to know all our applicants and clients personally.  For us, the executive jobs search is a multi dimensional process.  But would it surprise you to discover that many of the biggest companies in the world are using software to recruit their workforce?  In a world where more and more job applications are being made online, companies are being forced to turn to computer programs aimed at making the initial vetting process streamlined and more efficient. 

These programs, called applicant tracking systems, scan your CV to decide whether you move on in the process or fall at the first hurdle. 

At Engage Executive Jobs, a computer programe could never do the job of our talented and experienced team, so you can rest assured in the knowledge that for Engage, the executive jobs search always involves the personal selection and search process which benefits both our candidates and clients alike.

Read how the use of computer software is becoming more and more popular with large corporations looking to recruit executive and senior positions.

Read the full article on the BBC News website here

Female Execs Earn £400,000 Less Than Their Male Peers


We were stunned although not altogther surprised on hearing the news that female executives earn around £400,000 less in their career lifetime than male executives in comparable positions.  The Telegraph covers this story here


The average female company executive earns more than £400,000 less than a male counterpart over her career, a new study has revealed.

The average gender pay gap for UK executives is more than £10,000 a year, while women receive less than half what men are given in bonus payments, said the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

The research also showed that 4.3% of female executives were made redundant in the past year, 1.1 percentage points more than male bosses.

Women now make up 57% of company executives, but only 40% are departmental heads and fewer than one in four are chief executives.

The CMI estimated that a woman taking up an executive job at the age of 25 and working until 60 would earn almost £1.1 million, compared with more than £1.5 million for men.

A survey of more than 38,000 executives revealed a “substantial” gender pay gap at the higher end of the executive career ladder.

CMI chief executive Ann Francke said: “A lot of businesses have been focused on getting more women on boards but we’ve still got a lot to do on equal pay and equal representation in top executive roles. Women make up almost three out of four at the bottom of the ladder but only one out of four at the top.

“This lack of a strong talent pipeline has to change, and fast. Allowing these types of gender inequalities to continue is precisely the kind of bad management that we need to stamp out.

“Companies are missing out on the full range of management potential at a time when we need to be doing everything we can to boost economic growth.”

Dawn Nicholson of finance firm PwC said: “The size of the lifetime earnings gap between men and women is disturbing and suggests that women are going backwards versus their male counterparts.

“If the career path is identical, then it is hard to see why the differential would exist, let alone how it could be justified.

“Employers must really ask themselves whether they are being absolutely unbiased in the pay decisions they make. They need to consider whether they are fairly evaluating the different and diverse skill sets, not just of men and women in their companies, but of all of their employees.”

Labour equalities spokeswoman Kate Green said: “It is both unfair and unjustified that women should be paid less than men for doing equivalent jobs.

“The gender-pay gap at the management level is still higher now than it was in 2010, and at this rate, 42 years after the Equal Pay Act was passed, it will take at least another 21 years for management-level pay amongst men and women to be equalised. This is simply not good enough.

“It will be a continuing disappointment to many that the Government is still refusing to consider the provisions, provided for by Labour, to introduce mandatory equal pay audits if sufficient voluntary progress isn’t made.

“We also learn that, in the year female unemployment hit a 25-year national high, women executives have been hit disproportionately hard by job losses and female directors have been made redundant at twice the rate of men. It is increasingly clear that, on jobs, as well as pay, the clock on women’s equality is being turned back.”

Minister for Women and Equalities Jo Swinson said: “These figures show that women are still being paid less than men. More needs to be done to tackle this, and we are committed to doing so.

“So far we have made good progress to end pay discrimination.

“We have implemented measures in the Equality Act to make pay secrecy clauses unlawful and we are taking through legislation which would give Tribunals power to order that employers conduct a pay audit where they have been found to discriminate over pay.

“On top of this, our Think, Act, Report initiative encourages companies to report on gender equality in the workplace, including reporting on pay and other workplace issues.

“But for all this, pay inequality remains a stubborn obstacle to real fairness in the workplace. We will continue to work with businesses to ensure that we do all we can to help them make the most of women’s talents, and unlock their full potential.”