One of the greatest mantras of the 21st century workplace, team building is an oft-misunderstood term. Few organizations understand what constitutes a true team. Fewer still understand how to effectively build a successful work team.
Simply dubbing a group of employees a “team” does not make them an actual team. Sure, it is a group of people, but “team” implies a certain bond, an interdependency, and a groupthink. They share a common goal and vision and feel a sense of belonging to something larger than themselves. In return for fostering a culture that encourages, supports, and embraces teams, the employer reaps increased loyalty and engagement.
Here are some tips for building effective teams in your workplace:
1- Lay the Groundwork – Create a common framework by defining the purpose of the team and its relation to the company’s underlying business goals. Allow those who will be expected to serve on the team to play a role in making these key decisions. Schedule time to brainstorm with regards to vision and goals. Encourage employees to share their ideas. Each team has its own dynamics, so allow it to form naturally. Don’t try to force some artificial concept onto it.
2- Clarify Roles, Rights, and Responsibilities – Don’t leave anything to assumptions. Be sure to lay out the hierarchy of the team and be clear about who is responsible for what actions. Share critical information with members of the team and ensure that expectations are clearly communicated. Make sure that team members understand what tasks should take priority. Provide regular feedback with regard to performance and allow employees to share their thoughts as well.
3- Don’t Forget to Exercise – Team-building exercises, that is! While traditional team-building activities have become the butt of many a joke, there are many benefits to be gained from regularly scheduled sessions. They don’t have to take place every week or even every month. Aim for quarterly or bi-annual team-building days. There are many choices of activities – from classroom experiential to rope-climbing. Simply choose whichever best suits your company culture and the dynamics of the team.
4- Build Support – Nothing is more demoralizing than being asked to serve on a team only to find that senior management is openly hostile to the concept. Ensure that members of management – from immediate supervisors all the way up to the C-suite – not only support the endeavor but play a key role in making it a success. Encourage them to spend time with the team in order to learn what they value and what they need to help keep them productive and working toward a common goal.
5- Party Hardy – Provide plenty of opportunities for the team to celebrate. Whether the occasion is a major business coup or Cinco de Mayo, the chance to enjoy a special meal and other activities only helps to build the bond between team members. If you have no choice but to schedule such celebrations outside of the regular work day, open it up to spouses or other family members in order to avoid fostering resentment at home.
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