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In This Issue
Teams: What Makes a Strong Team?
Team Members: What Makes a Strong Team Member?
Team Leaders: What Makes a Strong Team Leader?
Virtual Teams: Getting it Right
SCS e-xpress

Sept/Oct 2015

A Message from Sarah & Chris:             tower cranes constructing 3d word team as a metaphor for team building


The theme of this issue is "building strong teams."

Successful firms that have strong teams have a sustainable competitive advantage. Employees of firms that focus on building strong teams feel connected and a sense of belonging, which contributes to their overall job performance and satisfaction.  When people join together and work towards a common goal, they can accomplish more than any individual could accomplish alone.  


Are you a member of a strong team?  Are you a strong team player?  Are you a strong team leader?  Read on to learn more about building strong teams.   


We hope you enjoy our free SCS e-newsletter.  Please send us your ideas and suggestions for future issues.  Have a great day!  

Where We'll Be

National Harbor, MD
10/18/15 - 10/21/15

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1/21/16 - 1/22/16

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3/6/16 - 3/8/16

Nashville, TN
4/17/16 - 4/19/16

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4/25/16 - 4/27/16

ABC Greater Twin Cities
Minneapolis, MN

April 25 - 27, 2016
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opening soon!
Book Recommendations
The Wisdom of Teams
 by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith

Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers, and Facilitators
by Patrick M. Lencioni
 Today's Quotes

"Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision, the ability to direct individual accomplishment toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results."
  - Andrew Carnegie, industrialist

"None of us is as smart as all of us."
  - Ken Blanchard,author

"A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of the others."
     - Norman Shidle, author

"Great discoveries and achievements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds."
     - Alexander Graham Bell

"To state it bluntly, you cannot have teamwork unless you have communicative players. Without communication you don't have a team; you have a collection of individuals."       
   - John Maxwell, author
Today's Laughs
Teamwork is the ability to work as a group toward a common vision, even if that vision becomes extremely blurry."   
 - Author Unknown
"Life is like a dogsled team. If you ain't the lead dog, the scenery never changes."
 - Lewis Grizzard, writer, humorist

"If things seem under control, you are just not going fast enough."
 - Mario Andretti, racecar driver

"The other teams could make trouble for us if they win."
 - Yogi Berra, coach

"Great cheese comes from happy cows."
 - Author Unknown

"Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape." 
     - Michael McGriff, poet



Business People Jigsaw Puzzle Collaboration Team Concept
What Makes a Strong Team?

We can find many definitions for "team" in dictionaries and on the internet. We all understand that a team is a group of individuals working together. One of my favorite descriptions applicable to a team within the workplace is:   

"A team is a small group of people with complementary skills and abilities who are committed to a common purpose, performance goal and approach for which they are mutually accountable."
("The Wisdom of Teams" by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K Smith.) 

This definition reminds us that we can all be different and still be a team. Although we may have varying skill levels and we may be responsible for different tasks, we can work together as a team for the greater good.  

What are some of the basics required to form a strong, cohesive team?
  • Committed team members
  • Effective team leader
  • Clear understanding of goals and objectives
  • Clear understanding of roles and responsibilities
  • The technical skills required to get the job done
  • Trust and interdependence
  • Open, honest communication
  • Some degree of decision-making authority
  • Efficient processes
  • Meaningful rewards and recognition
  • Fair treatment
Successful teams support their fellow team members and willingly share knowledge. Team members are able to express their ideas and opinions openly in a non-threatening, constructive environment.  Strong teams are vital to retirement services organizations that want to maintain a competitive edge and meet company goals. 

Click here to view a quick video showing the value of teamwork.  

Discover the value of teambuilding. Let SCS work with your firm to build stronger teams.  
                                                              Team of businesspeople build a new company                          
Team Members  
What Makes a Strong    Team Player?
"Team player" is more than a buzzword. Anyone can be a team member, but what does it take to be a strong team player?

Strong team players understand that each team member has a role to play and they appreciate the fact that each individual has a unique set of skills, and strengths. They respect the diversity of the individuals on their team, and they pitch in to help team members when help is needed. Strong team players praise the successes of team members and the company. When change is needed, strong team players help change happen instead of putting up roadblocks.

The list below shows a few qualities that a strong team player should exhibit. Feel free to add your own ideas to this list.
  • Integrity
  • Accountability
  • Reliability
  • Flexibility
  • Good communication and listening skills
  • Respectfulness
  • Cooperation and collaboration
  • Commitment
When it comes to being a strong team player, actions speak louder than words. You will be judged by how you go about conducting yourself at work each day. Most people consider themselves strong team players; however, it's the perceptions of those you work with and those you work for that tell the true story.  Are you a strong team player? 

Click here for tips on how to become a strong team member.

red leader connect humans
  Team Leaders
     What Makes a Strong Team Leader?
Team leaders can make or break a team. In today's rapidly changing world, retirement services organizations need strong team leaders who can foster a collaborative environment within their own team as well as across other teams and departments. To be a strong team leader, one must have compassion and meet all the qualifications of a strong team player. 

Strong team leaders excel in a variety of areas, including:
  • Leading by example
  • Building relationships with team members
  • Communicating vision, goals, objectives, and status updates
  • Organizing and monitoring progress
  • Delegating
  • Motivating and energizing
  • Providing praise and constructive feedback
  • Evaluating employees fairly
  • Allowing employees to express concerns and ideas
  • Solving problems
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Making available sufficient resources for technical support
  • Advocating on the team's behalf
  • Fostering an environment of continuous improvement and continuous learning 
The industry landscape can change, team dynamics can change, and a variety of other issues can challenge a team leader. Strong team leaders maintain a calm, level-headed demeanor and avoid panic when issues arise. They recognize that leadership is a never-ending learning process.  

worker standing on a virtual connection, network
  Virtual Teams
Getting it Right
Thanks to technology advances, it is no longer necessary that team members all work at the same location.  Establishing virtual teams can offer huge benefits - a larger employee pool to choose from, cost savings, and efficiency.  When a company decides to support virtual teams, that company must be mindful of the special needs that virtual teams require.  All the standard rules about teams, team members, and team leaders apply to virtual teams - and more!

When building virtual teams, extra effort must be made to ensure that you have:
  • The right people on the team
  • The right leader
  • The right technology
  • The right communication infrastructure
Virtual team members should be self-motivated and must have very good communication skills.  Team members need to be comfortable working with less face-to-face human interaction, and they must be able to work effectively with less supervision than they would find in a traditional office.  

Effective virtual team leaders understand the importance of clearly stated objectives and giving feedback frequently.  Virtual team leaders must stay in tune with team dynamics.  They don't have the advantage of face-to-face discussions where they can watch for signs of trouble through body language. 

Communication is key with any team, and it becomes even more critical with virtual teams.  Videoconferencing, intranets, and email make working remotely possible.  Technology tools can bring the remote workers closer together, and information sharing environments can be created to give the remote workers a sense of community and being connected.  With the right technology and the right communication infrastructure, working remotely can be a win-win solution for employees, managers, and owners.

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