Team building is very important when it comes to managing people. People are simply more willing to work together when the atmosphere encourages it. When everyone gets along, things just go better. Employees provide better service to the customer, they work together to deliver satisfaction with smiles, all having a positive impact on employee retention rates.
However, team building is anything but simple. It is not something that can be done overnight. Nor is it something you can force people to do. So, how can you effectively build your team to encourage them to bond and develop working relationships that are positive?
One of the best ways to encourage harmony, productivity, creativity and workplace satisfaction is simply to make sure you are putting together the best teams possible, and then getting them to work well as a team toward specific goals.
One of the most important ways to build teamwork is to encourage trust. According to Randy Conley, Vice President of Client Services & Trust Practice Leader for The Ken Blanchard Companies, trust comes down to those simple and routine behaviors you use every day at work. You don’t have to be best friends with someone on your team and you don’t need to share anything in common. But if you can trust them to have your back, then you’ll be motivated to support them as well. Consider putting your team in positions where they are forced to rely on each other to succeed. Find ways to encourage open communication and openness in general – and give the team chances to become personally acquainted so that they know more about one another.
Set Team Goals
Individual incentives can sometimes promote negative competition within your teams. In his study of the neurologic signal that indicates when we should trust someone, Paul J. Zak, founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University concludes that the neuroscience shows that recognition has the largest effect on trust when it occurs immediately after a goal has been met, when it comes from peers, and when it’s tangible, unexpected, personal, and public.
Therefore, we do not want to create an environment where it pays to step on the toes of your colleagues. Instead, you can do the opposite by setting team goals. Having numbers of sales up on the board, or better yet a customer satisfaction score, can help to remind your team why they’re there and to work together toward that common objective. Likewise, giving individual members within the team the credit and autonomy to work on projects, will further help them to be intrinsically motivated and to help their fellow teammates along the way.
Mix Things Up
While companies often pay significant attention to loyalty toward the organization, the best employers recognize that loyalty also exists among employees toward one another. And people with friends at work report receiving more praise and recognition for their accomplishments, according to Gallup research.
However, one thing to avoid is allowing smaller cliques to form within your organization. While friendship and natural synergies may be encouraged, you don’t want one clique of ‘smokers’, the older generation and ‘accounting’ for example. While your team will naturally be formed of smaller subsets, cliques can be destructive due to the principles of ‘convergence and divergence’ which will make those subsets view themselves more like outsiders rather than members of your organization. Solve this by breaking up destructive relationships, by moving the seating and by forcing more interaction between departments.
Teamwork between different departments is as important – if not more important – than teamwork within departments. This is another reason to move things around and to encourage individuals to spend time in other groups. If someone from sales spends a few days sitting with the marketing team, then they’ll not only become less part of their ‘sales team boy’s club’ but will also be more likely to better understand and respect the role of marketing.
According to Nan S. Russell, Author of Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture That Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation, leaders who build trust operate with three trust basics: they give trust first, they effectively communicate, and they authentically show up. Set the example yourself. As the leader of the team, it is up to you to provide a good relationship with your team players. You want them to feel comfortable with you as well as with others. You can encourage relationships to work by fostering a teamwork style. Not only will the business run better, but you can positively impact retention rates and the professional development of individuals within the organization.