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How to raise the interest level of your team

So, let's say that you're a manager in charge of a team of employees. You've got this group of men and women underneath you; you're their leader; and there are leaders above you. Let's first consider some difficulties that your delicate position raises.

1. First of all, you're a middleman, and nobody likes a middleman. Middlemen, generally, are seen as having two faces; they're twofaced, in other words. Think of how you like a twofaced person; and then put yourself in the position of your team. After all, you've got to consider their needs, but also the needs of your corporate bosses. Generally, your team will see the needs of your corporate bosses and your needs as the same thing. In other words, you're just out to please your corporate bosses in order to get a larger bonus or whatever, your team be darned. You're simply going to use them to please your corporate bosses and thus benefit from your team's hard work. Now, these biases of your team may not be true at all, in your case; but chances are that they have been true in other cases your team has found itself in, and that bitter memories are the result.

2. So, what you must first do to raise the interest level of your team (in whatever) is establish the fact that you're different from other managers. That is, you're not a middleman; you're one of the team; you're there for them, and you expect them to be there for you. The interest level of your team will shoot straight to the skies, I guarantee it. If they know you're not just a puppet for the powers that be, not just a twofaced middleman scraping to get ahead through a passage they've dug, that you are, on the contrary, one of them, and are willing to plunge in your shovel and dig with the rest, you'll raise the interest level of your team and have their devotion for life.

3. OK, let's assume that you've done the above; you've befriended (but always in a professional, non-clownish way of course; the worst thing a manager can do is try to joke his way into his teams' heart) your team; you've let them know that you're there for them and for corporate, rather than either/or; now what? Now how do you raise the interest level of your team?

4. The good news is, you've already won half the battle, and more. If your team comes to work feeling as though they're contributing something valuable to a valuable enterprise, their interest level is going to be in the skies regardless of any special tricks or techniques on your part. Still, though, you want to keep that interest level and that energy going. The key to doing this is maintaining constant communication with your team as a team and as individuals. This means calling informal meetings at least once a week, where food and drinks are served (or at least treats, e.g. doughnuts) and where the team discusses what's facing it now and what's coming ahead. It also means having informal meetings with the individual members of your team at least once a week, face to face. NOT in a spirit of master-disciple, but in a spirit of friend-friend. You'll want to find out if anything in particular is discouraging this particular team member, and what he or she feels that you can do about it. Implement and maintain the principles listed above, and you'll raise the interest level of your team, you'll impress your corporate bosses, and you'll make work less work and more challenging fun.

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