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Strategies for Building Better Teams

The saying “teamwork makes the dream work” might seem cliché, but take a moment to ponder over this.  Where does this saying come from and who coined it? John Maxell, renowned American author, speaker and pastor with a vision for leadership originally stated that “teamwork makes the dream work, but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team”.  The crux of the matter is that you can only do so much but if your team is not in it, failure is inevitable.

How does one cultivate a successful team and is it possible to avoid these pitfalls? Although things will not always run smoothly, it is possible to get the best out of your team.  Not only does this allow your company to flourish but your team’s mental health will also be in a much better state.  After all, if your team is happy, the company will be in a better place, so it is best to look after your workforce.  Building an effective team does require a lot of commitment but these strategies are sure to enhance the well-being of your company, employees and yourself. The following list of strategies can be applied to build better teams in your organisation.

Define roles, goals and responsibilities

Your company’s mission and vision should form the foundation of your workforce’s goals and responsibilities.  Clear goals and responsibilities make tasks more attainable for your workforce.  Your workforce’s responsibilities will most likely include tasks outside of their prescribed roles as the team collaborates in order to achieve a common goal.  The tricky part here is to make sure you have the best candidate for the position.  

Some, unfortunately, have a mentality of “I will only do what is required of my role” and this one bad apple can affect the whole team dynamic.  If this is the case, check out this article on creating an effective work culture and environment.

Happy team members, however, will most likely take up responsibility and pride in their work but sometimes burnout can also be a cause for individuals struggling to attain goals and responsibilities, so ensure that you look after your workforce’s wellbeing to ensure the achievement of goals and responsibilities.

Lastly, understanding that personalities differ will assist you in defining clear roles for individual team members.  There’s no use in employing the tech-savvy introverted individual to do a sales-driven task as they might feel overwhelmed and out of depth.  Focus on your team’s strengths and utilise those to achieve the company’s common goals.  This does not mean that you should not stretch your workforce to upskill and improve.  It is simply to understand what is currently needed by the company and focus on achieving those goals.

Trust by allowing your team to take part in the decision-making process

Being asked for input makes one feel valued, seen and part of the bigger goal.  But to ask for input might seem like a relatively difficult request as you are putting yourself in a vulnerable situation. It is known that vulnerable-based trust within a workforce setup is one of the main reasons a team functions well together.  Being vulnerable is hard as you might expose that you don’t know something, or got something wrong.  However, trust is the cornerstone of any relationship, whether it is personal or professional.  Trust is achieved through being flexible, transparent and open, so from a managerial perspective, trust should start with you.  If done successfully, this can stimulate your team to feel part of the decision-making processes and ensure that you have a different set of eyes to evaluate these processes with.

Acknowledge hard work

Paying attention to your workforce’s actions and showing your gratitude towards achieved goals, no matter how small goes a long way.  Recognition not only motivates employees but people love to be recognised for doing something.  

The saying goes “do what you love and you will never work a day in your life” but it is actually possible to start loving what you do. Job satisfaction can be achieved through acknowledgement and recognition.  It is not a matter of doing what you love but creating an environment where people can grow and feel purposeful, irrespective of their career choice or role.

Feeling acknowledged has several benefits that are linked to a sense of purpose. You will have better job satisfaction and perform better at tasks that might seem more challenging than individuals who do not have a sense of purpose.

Communicate and meet regularly

Whether your team is office-based, hybrid or full-on remote, technology allows us to communicate and meet up regularly.  Communication helps in reminding your workforce about their goals and the impact they are doing. It also assists in forming connections, which plays a big role in the well-being of your workforce.  Communication and meetings do not have to be formal either but can be the fun office chat or even weekly fun-fact meetings.  Since communication assists in establishing relationships, this will have a positive impact on the trust factor and collaboration touched on earlier.

Even the most introverted employees will yearn for some company.  One simple way of doing this is by creating a non-work-related communication medium where fellow employees can get to know each other and share relatable feelings, motivation or simply funny office jokes.  Alternatively have a weekly get-together for employees in the form of team-building like a quiz or game meeting.  Not everything needs to be formal and strict.  Allowing employees the freedom to feel comfortable to socialise will not only enhance their well-being but is great for employee retention as well.

Run effective meetings & processes

There are various tools and applications that can be utilised in order to run effective processes and meetings.  A list of these tools will be discussed a bit later.  Firstly, it would be wise to decide whether a meeting is essential.  Once the need for a meeting is established, ensure that all involved parties are informed of the date and time.  Keep your meetings succinct and only discuss the necessary information.  Encourage participation to not only ensure everyone is involved in the decision-making process but to brainstorm for creative ideas and solutions.  This will also assist that participants don’t zone out during meetings.

When it comes to streamlining business processes, it is essential to identify the processes that work and those that don’t.  Automate processes where possible and set goals for these processes to be achieved.  At the end of the process, it is important to gather feedback and continually improve these processes in order to become more efficient and effective. Time should not be spent figuring out the process.  The process is merely a tool to streamline the workflow, so if a process halters the goals needed to be achieved, something needs to change.

Set out time to celebrate and have fun

Work hard but also play hard.  A dedicated, successful team needs some fun too.  Happy employees who feel appreciated deliver and will walk the extra mile for their employers.  Encourage building friendships at work through chitchat or even fun activities like games meetings or going out together.  In a remote work environment, informal meetings can also be held through means of online meeting tools like Google Meet or Zoom.  Setup a dedicated fun meeting like Funday Friday where employees can get together (physically or digitally) and just relax and enjoy each other’s company. When it comes to these informal activities, remember to ask your employees’ input on what they would like.

Remember to celebrate the small wins, even if it is simply achieving a daily goal or figuring something out and encourage your team to share these small wins with each other too.  These small wins can even include celebrating a work anniversary and very importantly, birthdays or other special anniversaries or occasions.  The budget should not be an issue as a simple note can show just as much appreciation as a gift.  It’s the thought that counts.

Provide a platform for feedback

How else are you supposed to know what your team wants or needs? Feedback is crucial to ensure a fun work environment.  An effective and easy way to obtain feedback is through a survey. Consider using a rating scale or Likert scale survey that will assist you in visualising the outcome of your workforce’s answers. Open-ended questions should be kept to a minimum but not excluded entirely to allow your workforce to express any concerns or suggestions if necessary.  Remember to execute ongoing evaluations and assessments as your workforce’s preferences may change with time.

Consider these types of questions written by Lexi Croswell from Culture Amp to get you started. SurveyMonkey is a great free online survey tool that stores and visualises your data for easy comprehension.  Google forms is another alternative that can be utilised to create and evaluate feedback from employees.  Remember when feedback is gathered, as an employer or manager, it is also important to provide your team with feedback.

The bottom line

Teamwork, when executed successfully, will enable employees to appreciate one another and work more efficiently.  If employees are appreciated and feel they have a sense of purpose at work, you can expect your team to function optimally with less burnout.  Happy teams at work make the dream work!

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