Leaders, How Do You Inspire & Engage Nuts-and-Bolts Teams?

Nuts-and-bolts teams (also known as infrastructure teams) are often out of the spotlight and sometimes off executives’ radar screens.  

Clearly, the work of these infrastructure teams including information technology (IT), facilities, security, training, records management, to name just a few, is integral to the daily and long term success of organizations. 

Yet leaders must inspire and engage these nuts-and-bolts teams to greatness without the boost of recognition or event hooplah that bottom line teams enjoy.

The sales and marketing teams in for profit companies can easily see their contributions.  In scientific research organizations, diverse scientists know how they fit into the core purpose.  Programmers and graphic interface designers are at the pulse of success in tech companies big and small. There is inspiration in knowing that your work really counts.

So it is worth asking how do you inspire and engage nuts-and-bolts teams whose work doesn’t seem to be the heart of the core purpose?

Inspire and Engage Nuts-and-Bolts Teams. Image by:sghosh30

Support Makes It Work
I have spent 20 years inspiring nuts-and-bolts teams to greatness and one theme continues to resonate with all these infrastructure and support teams — “you keep the organization running”. Support makes it work!

Engage with Images
To inspire these teams, leaders, initiate this discussion with your nuts-and-bolts teams. Ask them to give examples to illustrate it. Have a computer hooked up to projection and find online images of each example they give. Some common replies include: pillars, suspension cables on a bridge, supply lines for front line troops.

Add even stronger, more exciting images like:

The “catcher” in a flying trapeze act who hangs there ready to grab hold yet doesn’t get the “wow” applause of the fliers doing triple flips. Show the safety net to illustrate the importance of those teams who are providing back up and securing resources.

Electrify your infrastructure teams with images of road crews for rock bands or pit crews at a race track.

Tap their personal needs with images of cleaning crews in hospitals. Would you want to be sick in a dirty hospital?

Highlight the backstage theatre crews who are moving props, working the curtain, applying makeup, fixing costumes.

For sports success, there are many supports teams — those who maintain golf courses, drive the Zamboni that smooths the ice rink, prepares the football or baseball field.

Main Point: Very little of the bottom line or core activity in organizations succeeds without infrastructure support teams. Take pride in doing the job well for when it is done poorly or not done, it effects the bottom line.  If time allows, schedule your teams to visit and talk to these teams noted in the above examples. It can re-energize a team to speak with other support type functions that take pride in their work.

QUESTION: What other images or inspiration would you add to this list to help nuts-and-bolts support type teams feel more valued?

Next Post on This Topic: The Tough Question
Leaders, how do you keep them inspired as they continue to see so much outsourcing and off-shoring of infrastructure and support functions?

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach, has established her reputation over 20 years as a gifted speaker, trainer, and inspir-a-tor who delivers transformational results in team spirit and performance. See footage of her in action at this site http://katenasser.com.customers.tigertech.net.

9 Responses to “Leaders, How Do You Inspire & Engage Nuts-and-Bolts Teams?”

  1. Thank you for sharing Kate. I’ve long been a fan of the “unsung heroes” on the front lines of technical support teams. My experience with these “go to” people/skill sets is that often they prefer to be behind the scenes solving complex isues and making the machine work. They need people to shed the light on their real job descriptions. Absolutely invaluable to a smooth running workplace technical culture. Flying trapezes only really work with careful planning – can add an element of excitement to the team for certain 🙂

    Let’s celebrate the nuts-and-bolts team. Great thoughts here as always.

  2. Another fantastic post, Kate!

    I appreciate your heart to recognize those whose efforts are at the root of the visible victories! Your visual analogies are amazing and overall, this is just spectacular advice! I’m going to begin implementing it in the morning by thanking my system administrators profusely!


  3. Kate – Hooray for those who work behind the scenes. Thanks for celebrating them. Years ago I recall reading that if we really valued preventive health, we would pay garbage collectors more than we pay doctors.

    Kudos on a well-written post and for supporting the supporters.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Glad you liked it Anne. Interesting point about preventive care too. Never heard that one!
      I know, as an organizational people-skills consultant, that showing respect and giving recognition to the unsung heroes impacts the long term commitment they can have. Thus my post.

      Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your contribution to this Smart SenseaAbilities blog.
      Have a super day.

  4. Skip Bieber says:

    another great post!!

    going to keep this one in my personal development file as a constant reminder! 🙂


  5. Huda says:

    Great post Kate, Thank you!

    I think we need to constantly acknowledge each individual’s work, and how it fits in the big picture.

    Then when we celebrate organizational success, and we should do, everyone feels valued, it might well worth to show a casual relationship chart of every role and how it contributes to organizational success, i know the weights of roles are different, but we can honestly note that each piece is important for a complete elegant picture!

  6. Audrey Williams says:

    Every role in an organisation has value! The bottom line is based on the success or failure of team work which includes individual efforts and input. Each has his/her worth that should be valued whether or not there is success; it is dependent on the culture of the organisation and what they do to keep the team engaged. The nuts and bolts team builds and maintains the organisation. Kudos to the team!

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