Do you have the team you need to win?

The Challenge – A new year is upon us, strategic plans are set and budgets approved – now the real work begins.  Now it’s up to our managers and teams to successfully execute the plans well enough for goal attainment.  Some goals will be more challenging than others.  The biggest challenge for most will be loan growth in a hyper competitive market and profitability with decreasing margins.

The Problem – Strengthening a sales and service culture is a common credit union strategy for increasing loan growth and profitability.  It makes sense, utilize existing staff to identify opportunities to suggest more products (i.e. loans) to members, increase loans and increase income.  Our people know the member, they know our products, and they care about the credit union and value job security.  How hard can this be, right?  The problem for some of us is that we don’t have the right people on our team, or we have the right people in the wrong positions.  Either of these two problems are big challenges for team work, especially when it comes to a successful sales strategy.  Frequently, these problems are the “big white elephant” in our team meetings.  We know it’s a problem, but how do we address it?

Try This – My HR Guru, Malcolm Paice addresses both problems very well in his book – Ya Gotta Wanna; Winning Takes Teamwork

Of the many books available on team work, I like this one.  In his book, Malcolm compares the work-team with a soccer team and provides a practical game plan to create balance, synergy, and style.  The soccer team comparison (Malcolm is a successful diehard soccer coach) works and it’s easy to understand and apply.

Competition is hard and it will only increase. As the title of the book implies, our team leaders and team members have “Gotta Wanna” win and be open to trying different game plans and strategies to win.

One of the biggest challenges teams face are from within.  Team members (and even some leaders) who do not want to be challenged or do not believe in the strategy.  I call these the “Don’t Wannas”. They will resist the team and the goal each step of the way.  It doesn’t matter if this resistance is overt or covert, it’s a killer.  The “Don’t Wannas” exist on management teams, front-line sales teams and back office support teams.  We try to win them over, convince, sell or rehabilitate the “Don’t Wannas” on the plan or the objective – but find it difficult at best.

The second challenge is to place our people in the best position to play to their strengths.  In “Ya Gotta Wanna”, Malcolm breaks down a business team into the key roles of a successful soccer team; Goal Keeper, Defender, Midfielder and Striker.  Good business and sales teams have each of these positions covered.

The Goalkeeper – is the manager of the team and the guardian of the team’s values, mission and score. Goalkeepers are in the game, on the field actively engaged with the team in the contest.  The best credit union team leaders are on the field fighting alongside their team for the win.  They do not shun accountability, they embrace it.

The Defenders – are those consistently dependable people who can be counted on to execute detailed plans.   They are good team players.   Defenders are comfortable with consistency and not the most likely to want to venture outside of the box.  The role and voice of the Defender is an important part of a successful credit union team.

The Midfielders – are our change agents.  They are comfortable with change and actively seek it out.  They are creative and confident.  Midfielders like to be challenged with something that has never been done before.  Credit unions need midfielders to challenge the status quo.  Especially at those credit union shops that are not growing.

The Strikers – can make something out of nothing.  They find and exploit opportunities.  They are comfortable assessing situations and can make quick decisions. Time and time again, they are finishers. Teams struggling with goal attainment need a Striker on the team to overcome obstacles and push to the win.

Winning takes team work.  Each position is valuable to the team – but balance is paramount.  Depending on the strategy, a team with too many of one position may struggle.  Too many Defenders and the team may be too slow to change tactics when required.  Too many Midfielders and the plans may never become operationalized.  You get the point.

Do you have the team you need to accomplish next year’s goals?   If your teams need some direction or are stuck in a rut – I hope you will check out Malcolm’s book.  In his book, Malcolm suggests practical solutions for re-engaging the leader and the team, building strategies around the team’s strengths and helping individual team members build skills to support new and evolving positions and game plans.

Happy New Year! Its 2014 – Game on!