The team around you can be the biggest asset of your Parent & Toddler group – when it works well! However when it doesn’t work well, it has the potential to cause distress, discomfort and sometimes damage, not just to the team members, but also to the parents and children attending your sessions.
As team leader, your role is to create vision, motivate, encourage and support those who work with you, whether in a paid role or as volunteers. So how can you help your team, and the individuals in it, become as effective as they can be?
People often use the phrase ‘There’s no “I” in team’, but that doesn’t accurately reflect reality. Whilst teamwork is certainly about a group of people working together for a common cause, we mustn’t forget that every team is made of individuals – lots of ‘I’s. One key to building a successful team is to recognise the differences and unique contributions each person makes, and then make sure they are in a role that brings out the best in them.
Additionally, understanding what motivates your team members in what they do will help you as you encourage them in their work, especially if they are volunteers. It’s the sort of thing to find out when you first talk with someone about joining your team. Here’s a list of some of the most common motivating factors:
This operates on a number of levels. It covers everything from wanting to give something back, using otherwise unused gifts and skills, having a sense of accomplishment or expressing their faith, through to just feeling good about themselves.
Someone may join you to learn new skills or to gain work experience. If they have been out of the workplace for a long time they may need to rebuild their self-confidence or add experience to their CV.
Recognition and reward
Not everyone wants financial rewards, but some people do need a tangible expression that what they do matters. This could be through something as simple as saying ‘thank you’ them or giving a small gift, or as expressive as ‘Volunteer of the Year’ awards.
Fun and friendship
For those who are lonely, joining your team can bring instant companionship. If they have a boring job three days a week, they may be looking to your group to bring some laughter and lightness into their life.
Connecting with community
Your Parent & Toddler group can be a bridge to building relationships with families in the community. It’s an opportunity for a person who may want to go on to develop another project or piece of work.
Belief in the cause
If someone has themselves benefited from your group, or a similar one, they will want to help others have the same experience. If you have a clear vision for your group that is openly expressed you will attract others who share the same sense of purpose.
Check regularly with the ‘I’s in your team that you are meeting their motivational needs and ensure that the right people are in the right roles. Not only will you and your team members benefit, but the families in your group will benefit from having a team that is committed and effective.