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7 Ways to Build Stronger Teams

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During a recent teambuilding and communicationworkshop I delivered one of my clients stated, “50% of all our obstacles to success center around team dynamics.” In other words you can have the best plans, strategies and initiatives, however if everyone is not team oriented, working well together and getting along, it will be difficult at best to get the results you want. Here are 7 ways to build stronger teams:

1.     Set Ground Rules and Guidelines. 
In my teambuilding sessions this is the first thing we work on. These guidelines are a consensus of the behaviors, values and communication ingredients that teams agree to live by.  For example some guidelines that have come up include;  return phone calls within 2 hours; respond to all e-mails to confirm receipt; no whining ; no bullying; everyone is included in office events, maintain self- esteem of others and disagree without being disagreeable.

2.     Have Team Members Involved in the Hiring Process. 
Start by getting other members of the team to be in on the interviewing and hiring process. By showing you trust the other members of the team to have a say in who they want to work with they will feel more valued and appreciated.

3.     Hire Team Players. 
Thoroughly review each job candidates background to see if they were a team player and if they did well in a team environment. Keep your antenna up when interviewing to see if they use words like “we” vs. “I” or give credit to others. Finally, ask them directly if they feel that they should be judged on their individual efforts or on how well they work with a team.

4.     Stay in Touch with Employees. 
Have regular ongoing 1 to 1 meetings with each team member to find out their wants, needs and desires.  When meeting with an employee and getting feedback, listen,  do not interrupt and don’t become defensive. To show that you value the employee ask, “What can we do to make you want to stay here?” This question shows that you feel they are important and a highly valued member of the team.

5.     Develop a Culture of Customer Focused Teams. 
Make sure that everyone is clear on what teamwork is and what is expected of them to be good team members.  Also, all leaders and employees need to “walk the talk” and live, eat and breathe teamwork.  Some ways to make sure everyone is on board is to; use the word “teamwork” in all correspondence and when conversing with others; display teamwork posters and cards;  pair up new employees with an enthusiastic and team oriented mentor;  have team training programs and retreats; use the word “team” instead of  employees or associates.

6.     Reward Team Members. 
When employees are asked what motivates them the #1 answer is; Recognition and Appreciation.  In other words, you may get paid a lot of money, however if you aren’t appreciated or recognized, you may stay with your job, however you will not be motivated.  Some ways to motivate team members include; giving them time off; giving money when not expected; having team dinners; company retreats; club memberships; tickets to events and more. Furthermore, make abundant use of the words, please, thank you, I appreciate that and would you do me a favor?

7.     Follow the 20/80 Rule. 
This rule states that 20% of your team members will give you 80% of the headaches.  The consequences of this is while you are spending all your time dealing with those who are poor performing team members, you cannot spend time with the good team members. As a result the good ones may feel unappreciated. If someone is not following the teamwork initiative then you must provide expectations of behavior and consequences if they don’t improve.

Written by Bhushan Kulkarni

January 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Posted in Management