I’ve never been much of a financial expert; in fact I would go so far as to say I’m not much of a financial amateur. That having been said, I’m quite good at spending money, hate owing money and always like to make sure my accounts are balanced. I don’t think I can point to many investments I’ve made I would describe as bad….but then again I can’t point to many investments I’ve ever made – so ‘no bad ones’ is not much of a recommendation.
Against this background, it won’t be a surprise that in any role I’ve had, I always make sure I acquaint myself with the finance lead – indeed I have been known to say that some of my best friends are in finance! If there is ever a skill set vital to me being able to deliver in my role then I always make sure that skill set is well represented on my team.
And I always invest in my team members. In fact I think I would rank investments I’ve made my team, and in individual members of my team, as being amongst the best investments I have ever made. Anything I have ever achieved has only been possible because of the team around me, supporting me, guiding me and stretching me. Without my team I would be lost…
I realise that many others have also invested in my team and team members. But I see myself as the principal investor. And in many ways I find this reassuring. I have a genuine feeling of influence over the likely return I will get. By definition, I have a vested interest in the short, medium and longer term outcome.
And the main investment I make in my team is my time. This last week a number of my new team members were visiting. Apart from one or two short sessions I spent my whole week investing in them all – working together and socialising together. Moreover, these investments were simple (and enjoyable) to make and I felt they provided immediate and tangible return. But the combination was important – we didn’t just work together and we didn’t just socialise together – we did both.
But what about my best friends from finance – what would they say? Well when I asked, they were after more specifics on the return side of this investment equation? At its simplest level, my answer was that the more I invest in my team then the more my team will develop, deliver and return value. And the more value we deliver as a team then the more opportunity we will get to add value.
So how could we increase the amount of value we deliver and offer as a team? Well we could work longer or harder, but we all know that the law of diminished returns appears very quickly on that particular path. So what else? Well, in my experience – such as it is – the most obvious way forward is that me and my team collectively ensure that we all grow and develop. We have to seek out, acquire and apply new skills and abilities. We need to study and learn together. We want to help and support each other. We will celebrate and commiserate together. In short, we will invest as much as possible in ourselves – as a team – in order to develop and deliver together.
And as any team invests, learns, grows and delivers, it enjoys itself more, rewards itself more and surprises itself more. So yes, it transpires that I do have investment advice to offer…the best investment opportunity we will ever have is in our teams!