Teamwork. The age-old saying that every company on this planet parrots. It is essential for success and can make or break an organization’s ability to succeed. But what actually is it, and how do you cultivate it? Through this blog, I would like to share my insight on what it takes to foster an environment where employees will work together more effectively and cohesively. Coming from a sports background and now working in a professional recruiting role, my experiences will consist of not only what it looks like to create a team, but also what it takes to evolve that team and take it to the next level.
Know Your Personalities
How well do you actually know your team? Maybe John had a birthday last month, or Shirley wants to travel overseas in the future, but outside of these tidbits of information what do you actually know about them? Try digging into knowing a person a little more to discover common interests, or at least gain a better feel for the type of person you work with. Another way to build team cohesion is to implement practices to help ease the tension of breaking the ice for new employees, and even tenured ones. Games like “Two Truths and a Lie” are great ways to accomplish this, because it creates memories to bond over and laugh about in the future. For this example it’s simple: start by organizing the group into a circle and each person introduces themselves with three facts, but only two of them are true. The rest of the group works to determine what each person’s false fact is.
Never Underestimate the Little Things
This tip slightly piggybacks off of the first one, but is still every bit as important. How have you felt when a person remembered something you told them in passing a month ago? It feels nice to know that someone listened and took what you said as important, so try to provide this service for coworkers, and encourage it among the team. It takes such a small amount of effort to repeat something a person said to you in your head a few times so that the information will be there when you need it in the future, but the impact it has on a team member is fantastic!
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Lead by example. This simple point is extremely effective in an unlimited amount of scenarios. Make sure to offer up what spare time you have to help serve another team member. This small gesture of help will always be greatly appreciated, and will work wonders when you may ask for help in the future. A lot of times, people do not like being the only ones not participating, and by actively working to help others each day you can start a “pay it forward” scenario where each person will want to provide the same courtesy to others.
Have a Goal Everyone Agrees With
The core reason for having strong teamwork is everyone being on the same page. One of the biggest keys to creating successful goals for a team is inclusion. When a person has the ability to participate in something they helped create, oftentimes that individual will be much more invested in the outcome of their performance in relation to that goal. Another beneficial point to having the team’s involvement with goal creation is it creates accountability among each of the team members. Not many people are comfortable being the weak link, especially when they were an integral part of the creation process. Lastly, make sure the goals are both measurable, and obtainable!
Know Your Role!
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) article How to Improve Teamwork, states “Roles should be well-defined and should utilize the skills and interests of each person.” Teams will work together much more effectively if each person knows the why behind their involvement, and exactly what they should be doing. This also allows for much clearer expectations not only for themselves but also their team members. The more transparent these are, the better idea a person will have of what it takes to reach the next level of their career.
Think of this in terms of a map: how the heck are you going to reach your destination if you have no idea where you’re headed? The same goes for any team. Direction is incredibly important, and a good leader will utilize the team’s interest and abilities to set that destination, and the path to get to it. But you know what makes a road trip even more fun for the group? Discussing where each person might want to stop and take pictures along the way. Each passenger should have a say in what is important to them for their journey, and also the team’s journey, while the destination is ultimately the same end-spot for the entire group.
Who are they behind the scenes?
Being in the Recruiting field, one of the best indicators for me is to keep an eye on is how candidates and new employees treat the people they are not trying to impress. I check with our front desk here at Mattress Firm often to see how a candidate checked in and what personality they showed. This trick has worked quite a few times and has greatly helped with my accuracy of hiring quality candidates. When building a team, make sure to include this into your interviewing techniques as it will give you a better idea of what a person is about behind the scenes.
In summary, there are many elements that contribute towards the success or failure of a team-focused environment, and these seven tips are really just the tip of the iceberg. These tips are designed for any industry, any company, any environment. There are more personalities in this world than we can count, and getting them to work together can be tough, but it is doable!