These blog posts take an interesting question that I was asked in my daily Live Q&A Podcasts on Facebook and give it another look. To listen to the entire Q&A, check out the podcast version on iTunes or Soundcloud for free access anywhere, or on my Facebook Page.
The Question: “What is the best way to bring your team together as one?”
Team building is one of those topics that perfectly illustrates the problems with leadership development in most organizations. Everyone knows it’s important, and because of that, organizations believe their leaders will just magically know how to foster teamwork. But of course, most don’t come genetically equipped with the knowledge on how to build a team. Luckily there are a few key principles that can improve your team’s ability to work together pretty quickly. These are three 80/20 principles that will get you on the right track right away.
Simple – Too many leaders make the mistake of thinking of team-building activities as big huge endeavors, and nothing could be further from the truth. Simple 5-minute exercises are often just as effective as a full-day seminar, and beyond the activities, simply how you set up your department can go a long way towards building relationships. I’ll show you what I mean with wo things:
- Do some activities – There are dozens of 5-minute team building activities you can weave into pre-shift meetings, weekly staff meetings, or just ad hoc over the course of the day. The key is that people communicate, share an experience, and hopefully find out something about one another. That’s it. When you weave these activities into the next principle (consistency) it becomes very powerful.
- Lead with the team in mind – Not every task needs to be given to just one person. Explore giving tasks to teams of 2-3 people. Yes, they will likely split it up and work autonomously 80% of the time, but it does foster more communication and a shared experience and output which can be helpful. Also, be mindful of people forming cliques in the workplace and actively direct some of your leadership to expose people to different individuals than they may naturally choose (I also am a fan of changing seating arrangements and/or specialties every 6 months)
Consistent – The other aspect of the “big huge endeavor” mindset of team building is that leaders often recognize the issue, take massive action, and then leave it be. This rarely gets the strongest results. Simple, easy, and CONSISTENT activities help build greater and greater bonds of communication and experience. So plan to do those Google activities once a week, or once every couple of weeks for a few months. What you’ll find is that it breaks down resistance over time and the team building gets richer and richer.
Mutual Goals – Beyond the activities is the aligning of everything behind mutual goals. Great teams have clear goals everyone is working towards. This creates a common purpose which not only helps improve communication, but also smooths over more petty disagreements as everyone sees the larger picture. Talk about the goals regularly, talk about the importance of every person’s responsibilities to reaching that goal, and put up a scoreboard to track progress. The more you talk about what everyone is working towards, the more your employees will talk about it, and that aligns everyone’s purpose.
Better communication, deeper interaction, and clearly defined team goals are at the heart of great team-building. Work towards those things and you’ll start reaping the benefits for yourself, your team, and the organization.
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