About ten years ago, I joined Marsh McLennan Agency (MMA) with sole purpose of building a top-notch safety team. Building a great team starts with hiring the “right” people, but that’s only the first step. Getting the “right” people to perform at a level that’s higher and more demanding than what they’re used to needs to happen first. Here’s the seven things I’ve discovered need to happen when building a high caliber team.

  1. Establish caring relationships. I found strengths and unique skills in each individual and consistently expressed my appreciation. I openly admitted that everyone brought a skill set to team that I couldn’t offer. I explained to them areas where I was weak and needed their contribution for us to be successful.
  2. Provide honest feedback. I had to learn to be more honest with feedback than I had been in the past. This meant providing feedback specific to someone’s job performance, even if it wasn’t always positive.
  3. Celebrate success. I celebrated successes on an individual and group level and intentionally acknowledged and rewarded teamwork. When team members helped and supported each other, I praised them in front of the whole team and upper management. Additionally, whenever we worked on a project together, I’d take a step back and allow them to have ownership, present the program, and take credit for any successes.
  4. Be comfortable making people uncomfortable. I challenged individuals to set lofty professional goals and to believe in themselves. I asked them to do things they’d never done before. I encouraged them to pursue their passions and be creative, as long as it fit into our goal of creating client value.
  5. Learn to tolerate failure. When individuals failed, we worked together to examine the failures and use them as a learning opportunity to improve overall processes and procedures. I then encouraged them to try again. If others voiced concerns about any of my team members, I always supported and backed my team. I explained to the concerned individual the circumstances surrounding the concerns and what steps were being taken to correct the situation.
  6. Hold team members accountable. I held team members accountable for their actions and inactions by maintaining a level of objectivity and clear expectations I couldn’t compromise. These expectations were explained initially during the interview and reinforced during orientation and monthly team meetings. For instance, everyone’s keenly aware customer service is our number one priority. If clients voiced complaints about service, then we’d have candid conversations on how to immediately address these concerns. If additional clients complained, disciplinary action would be taken; client satisfaction is critical to being part of our team.
  7. Empower your employees. Finally, I love that the team no longer needs me to make decisions. They’re empowered to make decisions on their own and they know their opinions and thoughts are valued. Not sharing ideas and thoughts on our team is viewed negatively.

I’m very proud of the safety team MMA Midwest now has in place. This team has managed to grow at a rapid pace since I joined the company, and I’m excited to see what this team accomplishes in the future.

For more information on building a top-notch team, contact an MMA advisor today.

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