Dr. Tonya Robertson of Focused Training Solutions: “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”
Prioritize Your Tasks: Incorporating some of your daily tasks into automated systems makes it easier to connect with your employees and team members because those tasks are not consuming your time. Having systems in place will help shift your focus in other areas that can generate revenue, productivity, and collaboration. This will inevitably produce better results and stronger collaborations among team members.
As a part of our series about the five things you need to successfully manage a large team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Tonya Robertson.
Dr. Tonya Robertson, the learning and strategy specialist is the Founder and CEO of Focused Training Solutions, a company that is committed to curating instructional learning tools designed to optimize performance in the workplace. Robertson has worked with numerous C-Suite Executives of well-known companies to create training materials that will guide their team to success and establish good retention among their employees. Alongside working tirelessly to help others be productive in the workplace, Tonya also devotes her time to organizations such as the Association of Talent Development and Dell’s Women Entrepreneur Network. She has also received a Doctorate Degree in Education and eLearning. To learn more about Tonya and her work, visit www.focusedtrainingsolutions.com
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I decided to pursue my career in entrepreneurship and create my own company because of my previous jobs and childhood upbringing. I felt like I did not have a voice and I was raised in a way where a persons’ path was already determined for them. Starting my own business and going against the grain gave me the motivation to do more and show others that you can always change your path. While developing my business, I realized that you have to be your own cheerleader and not depend on others to validate your why for creating your brand.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
A story of bird poop. It was a cool weekday and I headed to Ruth Chris to meet with a client about proving learning and development services for her team. I was confident in my sales presentation, was dressed to impress and every piece of hair was behaving. As we stood outside waiting for a table, down came a huge drop of what I assumed to be a raindrop from the sky. However, I quickly discovered what I thought to be a raindrop was a black and white drop of bird poop. Embarrassed as ever, I ran inside in disgust and scrubbed the life out of the dirty spot on my shirt. Needless to say, we canceled lunch and instead had a phone meeting that same evening. The client ended up becoming a customer, but I really think she was an easier sale because she pitied me. To this day, I fully understand the meaning of hope for the best but prepare for the worst. I keep a change of clothes with me at all times.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Funny now but not then, I was always excited about my products… the launch, the packaging, etc. The problem was that my customers were not. I did not research the customer needs and I was creating products that no one wanted. It cost me a lot of money. Now I never create a new offering without at least knowing that the market needs it.
Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on the best way to retain great talent today?
The best way to retain great talent today is to constantly check-in on your employees to make sure that as a CEO or founder you are providing them with all the resources, training and support they need to be successful. It is also important to make sure that the line of communication between employees and company leadership is always open past the deadlines. Staff members want to make sure that they can ask questions and be heard anytime throughout the company. Employers and C-Suite executives who put ample amounts of energy to keep communication consistent at work will lead to greater productivity, retention and efficiency.
How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?
It is essential to have systems in place that will help shift your focus in other areas that can generate revenue and productivity. Also, automate some of your daily tasks, so that everything is not consuming your time.
Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”. (Please share a story or example for each, Ideally an example from your experience)
- Check In: Host weekly check-ins with your staff, but do not solely discuss work but also ask about their well-being and how they are feeling during this time. This is something that many company leaders and top executives do not typically ask or think about. In a work environment, you can get so caught in the routine of clocking in working and clocking out, without taking the time to check-in on your staff and making sure they are doing well. Increasing your consideration for your team is crucial and will make a substantial difference as well within your company culture.
- Prioritize Your Tasks: Incorporating some of your daily tasks into automated systems makes it easier to connect with your employees and team members because those tasks are not consuming your time. Having systems in place will help shift your focus in other areas that can generate revenue, productivity, and collaboration. This will inevitably produce better results and stronger collaborations among team members.
- Understand The Job: A successful team that will work and collaborate effectively has to understand each other’s positions. Understanding the importance of base-level jobs all the way to the C-Suite executives allows employees to understand the duties of their team members. This makes it easier to create organizational change within the company.
- Employee Training IS A Priority: Team training is the most essential part of developing and maintaining a successful team. It is important to make sure that the training is not one-size fits all. Not all employees learn the same and all the employees’ needs need to be advocated for. Employee training should nurture each employee’s technical expertise and further enhance the team’s skills.
- Celebrate: Always celebrate each other’s wins. Whether it is personal or professional, big or small, celebrating your team’s wins and accomplishments will increase morale and excitement within your organization and team members.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Having team building days or exercises that can be completed weekly or monthly can enhance engagement and inclusivity among employees and their executives. Also, having the CEO learn the needs of your job and what your daily responsibilities are can help the CEO learn how to do their jobs and accommodate their employees by spending more time with them and what their daily work entails.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would organize a worldwide day for “bring your leader to your desk day.” This would be day in which all leaders would take time out of their schedule to really see and do what their team are doing every day. This will help leaders gain a better understanding of what really goes on in the organization. Leaders are the decision makers, but they are also hands off and oftentimes do not understand the real work that is required before making hasty decisions.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Every master was once a disaster.” This is a quote by T. Harv Eker. This quote serves as a gentle reminder for me to never stop learning and doing — with time, consistency and fine-tuning, results will become better.
Thank you for these great insights!