Alas, this is going to be the last of my team building posts. Not because of lack of other ideas, but more as I think digesting and acting on the first 8 will take time. I will revisit this topic later, but if you made it this far ask one question of yourself, have I actioned the first 7 parts? As Bruce Lee once said, “Knowing is not enough, we must apply.” So I ask as you read the last part, you think about applying. 

Why did I call this extra credit? I guess you need to read it. A few years back there was a NHL commercial, about ‘we.’ Everything in a team (well sports team) is about ‘We’ and not the individual. In the 2003 Stanley Cup Martin Brodeur did not win the Conn Smyth Trophy (MVP of the Playoffs) it went to someone on the losing team. When asked about it (and many people content he should have won it) he is quoted is saying “That is the one I want (pointing to the Stanley Cup.)” 

That may sound good in a commercial, and often may drive athletic teams to success, but in the business world it cannot be all about ‘We.’ People have Ego’s, people have feelings, thoughts etc. And in the business world there is no true Stanley Cup each year (or every 4 years) there is this ongoing struggle for daily success. As a manager you do not huddle up your team on Jan 2nd and say this year, we are going to win at building software and hope on December 30th the team is at the top of the world.  

So, if that does not exist what does? In an earlier personal blog, I wrote about climbing a mountain, and having to look down. What I neglected to say is that most likely there are a series of mountains, and you are going up and down constantly. As a manager, looking down means two things: 1. Celebrating Team Success and 2. Recognition of individual contributions. 

Celebrating team success is the easy part. Everyone in the team, no matter how large or small their contributions can revel in the moment. A team lunch, a launch party, or even emails from Managing Directors of the firm all go a long way in boosting morale and allowing someone on their ride home to feel they were a part of something.  

Recognizing an individual or individual(s) is harder. Every year at my company there is ‘promo’ day where you hear about all the new people who get promoted. The chatter that ensues is always ‘WTF why did he get it and not me (or someone else I know)’. The exact same thing happens in any recognition. But without recognizing someone who went beyond, that person could feel that his or her efforts were not recognized.  

To resolve this first, make sure either you or the direct manager has one-on-one meetings and hold that meeting after milestone. The first thing should be “Thanks for doing X” (be specific about something they did.). Show the team member that you notice something and thought enough about it to point it out. Just saying “Thanks for your work on project Y” is not enough. Be thoughtful, mindful and sincere.  

Second, any recognition given to individuals that larger groups would see (the whole team, people outside the team etc.) needs to be so obvious to everyone on the team. If a vote was taken about what the MVP of that milestone would be, the team would easily vote there. In fact, creating a survey after a milestone, and asking that one question of not only your team, but anyone involved to pick an MVP often is better. As it is not coming from ‘the boss.’ The boss already gave his direct thanks, this is just something fun and extra.  

Now, re-read the above three paragraphs and where I put the word recognition, replace with credit. It sounds very different, but it is the same. I manager should never take credit away from any individual, and in all conversations, emails, talks with senior managers the credit should be directed to the individual who did the work. Including in the one on one telling the individual you noted the contribution to your manager. The team should get credit for succeeding, the manager gets only credit for guidance, the individuals on the team get credit for their contributions.  

Recognition is not the same as credit, recognizing someone for contributions is giving someone the credit they deserve. As a manager, there should be no greater reward than having the individuals you manage getting “Extra Credit.” What you get credit for is guiding them to get it. 

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them 

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.