MasterMinds: There’s a ‘Me’ in Team. And in Meh.

**Editor’s Note: MasterMinds is a biweekly feature in which we invite leading master agents to share information, insights and expert opinions about what’s going on in their agencies, the IT/telecom channel or the business community in general.**

One of the most massively overused phrases in team building is “There is no ‘I’ in team.” The idea behind this threadbare axiom is a good one: A team must work as a unified group, with all attention and effort focused on a common goal; a selfish player can throw the team off balance. But it’s important to remember that while a team is working as a unified group, it’s also a collection of individuals. As another popular phrase puts it, “There’s no ‘I’ in team, but there is a ‘me.'” The individual members of a team must never disappear into the collective effort. This minimizes and undermines their dedication and importance to attaining the common goal. Every member of the team must be appreciated and recognized for their respective contribution to the overall enterprise. There is a “me” in matters, too, and every team member must feel that they do.{ad}

Pick up a program at any sports event and you’re going to see a team roster with photos, names and stats. In any given game, there will be some players who make spectacular plays and some who never leave the bench. And that’s likely to change from game to game. But the dynamic of team play is that each member is ready and willing to do their best whenever they are called on. If you take another look at that roster, you’re likely to notice something else: Each member of the team has a distinct position —  or role — based on their particular talents. The power of any team is drawn from the strengths of its individual members. And that’s where the juncture of me/team becomes critical.

Teams work together for the win, whether it’s a championship, a trophy, a sales goal or a product launch. And for each team member to contribute the maximum individual effort needed to achieve the win, they need to know what it means for them personally. In other words, “What’s in it for me?”

We are all motivated by need, from the basics — food, clothing and shelter — to higher goals such as self-esteem. It goes without saying that for the vast majority of us, our primary motive in working is to get a paycheck so we can cover our bills and provide for our families. At the same time, we need to feel that what we are doing to earn that paycheck is appreciated; that our contributions are valued. In the short term, high-fives all around and “Great job, everyone” are good. In the long run, financial incentives such as raises, promotions, bonuses or spiffs are even better.

Letting team members know that they matter and understanding how to keep them motivated can up the level of effort invested by any team’s “me” from mediocre to meteoric.

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