by Aias Katsaros, HR Manager | Workathlon
While beginning to collect my thoughts in order to create a blog post, I recounted of the last months and how normal life and work has been altered in an instant. After being initially shocked, I realized that even though the medium that we conduct business has changed, people still need to bond and feel part of a work family (aka a team)!
Therefore, the subject of my blog post suddenly became obvious! Today’s situation is just a transitional period and hopefully soon we will once again be able to socialize and conduct team activities. Taking note upon this, I will discuss how to build and unite employees to evolve from being colleagues into being an all – star team!
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It all starts with a great leader in order to build great teams. A true Leader must have clear sight and not hesitate to make tough decisions, establish standards of performance that can be met consistently – while at the same time keep the team in the correct course.
Team building requires:
Excellent understanding of people
Ability to identify people strengths
Ability to spot the reasons that would motivate them to work well as a group
Team building is all about managing different personalities, keeping egos in check and address demands for attention and recognition – that is not always justified. The ability to team build could be described as a mixture of art and science. That is why a leader that can effectively build great teams is a rare and VERY sought phenomenon in the world of business.
Being the leader of a team, you must be aware of your leadership style and techniques. Are they well – received by the team you are attempting to lead?
Conduct an honest evaluation of yourself and try to be objective about potential areas of improvement, especially those that would directly benefit those you are leading.
While you may be the boss, your subordinates might not appreciate the way you work. Ensure that you remain accountable and adjust your management style accordingly, since it is very important to lead from a position of strength and respectability.
As (hopefully) most of you know, the foundation for any lasting relationship, professional or personal, is trust.
While in a professional setting, team members need to have good communication, feel confident that their colleagues will deliver on promises, share their goals, and will step – up during difficult times.
According to Forbes a Harvard Business Review survey arrived at a shocking conclusion, that 58% of people answered that they trust strangers more than their own boss.
If an employee finds difficult to place trust towards their own boss, it is almost certain that they will have similar feelings towards their colleagues too. When a person places trust in team members and their trust is well placed, their bond will be stronger going forward.
A few pointers that can contribute in strengthening the team bond between colleagues are:
“Patience is a virtue” could not ring more true! Know that building trust requires time, so be tolerant and considerate of any mistakes.
Being calm and in control inspires trust and loyalty. Your employees will view you as a rock of stability while navigating the rough – seas of deadlines and project completion dates.
Being transparent, and flexible
This will make employees feel confident that they will be treated objectively and fair in all situations.
Provide Constructive Feedback
Have a process and a plan to follow in order to get your point across.
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Participate in ongoing team exercises
Have the team organize and participate bonding exercises that help them gain trust and get to know each other.
Get To Truly Know Your Team
Just as you have your distinct work style, so does everyone on your team. Stop attempting to make others change theirs to operate according to your style. Remain aware of their strengths and limitations. By doing this you will gain insight on how to position people within your teams so that you can compliment everyone’s strengths and support their weaknesses.
To understand others, I will provide some key points that can be used and are usually effective in this regard:
Pick up on any emotional cues (verbal and non-verbal)
Be mindful of the tone of voice, expression, body language and other non-verbal ways of communication.
Be an active listener
Actively listen to people in order to better understand their point of view. This will help you achieve a much greater efficiency in communication with the added benefit of the person feeling confident to express themselves.
Be aware that not everyone has the same point of view
The point of view may greatly differ among different people. Show sensitivity and understand their perspective. This might contribute in thinking a different and better approach towards a situation.
Be present and willing to provide assistance
Show your commitment to providing assistance and helping out any members that are troubled or encounter difficulties.
Clearly Define Roles & Responsibilities
After having understood your team you can then determine and hand out the roles and responsibilities for each member.
Thinking that this will be an easy task is naïve; it is very common for leaders to arrive at the realization that people’s ideal roles lie outside their original job descriptions.
To make the most out of your team, each member’s responsibilities should be interconnected and dependent upon one another. This will sound similar to team sports, where some players are known as “system players” – this means that although they may not be the most talented person in the team, they have a unique and irreplaceable function as a cog within the “system.”
This further demonstrates why a good leader must have a sharp eye for talent and that they can evaluate people not only on their ability to perform in a specific role – but rather on whether they are a good match for the workplace culture (aka the system) and will be a valuable team player.
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To illustrate the above, I would like to quote the words from Glenn Llopis, “a team should operate as a mosaic whose unique strengths and differences convert into a powerful united force”.
Be Proactive with Feedback
Many leaders often make the mistake to wait until a problem occurs before they start giving feedback. Feedback should be proactive and constant, with the end result being having excellent communication. In a top performing team, feedback should feel usual in the same manner as it would to a normal conversation. Feedback can be provided in both formal and informal format.
In fact, I would recommend that you take steps to ensure it does not becomes too much structured and stiff because then, it becomes difficult for the feedback to be authentic and impactful. Always keep in mind that every team is different, with its own unique problems and dynamics. The fact that an approach worked in one team is no guarantee that it will be effective in another! There is no simple, cookie – cutter approach to be followed.
Consider proactive feedback as your team’s greatest asset to achieve continuous improvement. Take the time to help a member of the team understand how and what they can do better. Make sure you keep an open mind and also learn from them while keeping the process of feedback simple and efficient.
Instead of asking people if they agree on a given approach, decision or meeting point, you may ask if anyone disagrees. Thus you are providing them with an opportunity to voice concerns rather than simply nodding their head in an effort to go along with popular opinion. Conflict if constructive, is not necessarily something to be avoided at all costs. In a properly functioning team, the members should be able to work through their disagreements in a respectful, productive way without taking it personally, resulting in the group becoming stronger and more effective as a whole.
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Acknowledge and Reward
Acknowledgement and reward must be closely following proactive feedback. It has been proven that while people love recognition, they are most appreciative of respect.
Ensure you always take the time to give your teammates the proper accolades they have earned and deserve. Many leaders take performance for granted because they don’t believe that one should be rewarded for “doing their job”. 2020 is a time when employees strive to feel as that they are making a difference. By paying attention to their efforts and letting them know you are a better leader.
Being genuine in your recognition and respect will greatly contribute towards building loyalty and trust. As an added benefit it organically makes employees put the extra effort and go the extra mile!
Always Celebrate Success
At a time like now, when uncertainty is looming over most people each day, it is essential to take the time to celebrate success.
This goes beyond acknowledgment – this is about taking a step – back and reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you have learned throughout the journey.
In several cases, leaders can fall into the trap of celebrating as personal success the final result that the team accomplished, rather than celebrating the success stories that in many cases required tremendous effort, sacrifice and perseverance from the entire team.
Celebration is a short -lived but essential activity. Take the time to live in the moment and remember what allowed you to strike gold. Leaders are only as successful as their teams. The truly great ones know that by investing in the right team dynamics, decisions and diverse personalities, everyone comes home as a winner in the end.
Team Building Never Ends
Finally, team effectiveness is not something you think about as a minor task that fits in between the other “important” stuff. It should be your focus. Keep in mind that projects will come and go, but the team is the motor that powers through to reach the end result. And just like engines need maintenance to run efficiently, teams need to revisit best practices and continually improve to make sure effectiveness remains optimal.
To thank you for your time and effort in reading my blog article, I have included my top 3 Team Activities I consider as amazing to create bonding, release the stress and achieve common ground among teammates.
Escaperooms – Select via vote the theme of the room (ideally one with an interesting central plot and theme for the majority of the team, since riddles usually revolve around it). This activity gives a push to problem solving, encourages laughter and cooperation, while at the same time getting to know each other better.
Team Cooking Class – Have your entire team attend a Cooking / Pastry Class and try to create something tasty! In most cases the result will not be edible but the fun and cooperation will be enough to build camaraderie and bond the team like glue.
Team Sport – Traditional but very effective in building strong bonds and cooperation in a team is a non-violent and easy to learn team sport. It should be selected according to the preferences of all the team members.
For additional ideas of team activities I found some great ideas in the following link!