There is an old saying in the world of team management that goes: “there is no i in team”. In other words, it is not about the individual – everything is for the team.
A very clever memory jogger it may be, but it is also absolute nonsense.
A team that is only motivated by the company’s goal is very fragile, working on borrowed time and due to crash. The key to a good team is bringing the unique individuality of each person within the team to the fore and making sure each person works together to use those singular skills for the benefit of the team. Let’s take a look:
1. Focus on Individual’s Unique Skills
A team is only good as the sum of its parts. So straight away we need to consider the individuals who comprise the grouping. It is likely each person will have a unique role to play within the team. Even if the team comprises “same job description” roles, each person will bring their own personality, aspirations, associate skills, experiences and attributes. This is what enriches a team, allows it to grow and fire on all cylinders – as long as those individual positives are taken advantage of by the team as a whole.
It is important, especially in teams of peer roles to determine where each person’s unique skills lie. In this way, micro tasks such as report writing, designing, marketing, or client support – whatever it may be – can be attributed to individuals who can not only provide the best performance, but also pass those skills onto team mates.
In the same way, the astute manager will be on the lookout for those skills which will enable the employee to develop his career (i.e. supervisory, team communication and management skills)
2. The Team Accepts Individual Skills
A team that is driven by the skills of its individual parts is essential but there is also a requirement that each and every team member recognizes those skills which in turn create a streamlined process and interdependence. As much as management is aware those special propensities, the team needs to recognise them, accept them and run with them.
3. A Feeling for Company Goals and Mission
An individual who is only concerned with completing his own tasks is not working within a team. He needs to understand the over-arching goals of the team and how his own productivity fits into that goal. Once everyone understands and has a passion for the team goal, this will add greater motivation and direction for each individual’s goal and encourage inter-colleague cohesiveness.
4. Boundaries Around Conflict
To reduce conflicts within the team it needs to be clear where the power lies. In other words, who will make the decisions? Who will attribute tasks? This can be via separate management or through peers within the team, but each member needs to respect the decision maker and work to that effect.
5. The Right Leader
The team needs a captain they can trust and respect. The manager, team leader or supervisor needs to be a role model, a person who can lay down firm boundaries and still communicate on all levels; someone who commands respect and is a listening ear when things go wrong. The manager is the personification of goal, mission and principles of the company and so intrinsic to the direction and cohesion of the team.
6. Rewards for Good Work
A factory line at work can be terribly de-moralizing. Teams work best when they have rewards outside of the daily grind. Regular feedback can be useful. It shows that management is aware of the work they are doing and that they are recognised when things go right as well as when they go wrong.
Ensure everyone has opportunities to further their career. Create systems which are intrinsic to company goals that take into account each employees development and growth.
7. Nurture the Team Bond
Team member stability is so important. When employees work together for long periods of time they get to understand each other, recognise each other’s strengths and weaknesses, become friends and create a “family” feeling within the team. When someone leaves a team it can cause friction, cliques, disturbed processes and a reduction in productivity. If you are considering whether to let someone go or not consider the subtler long-term effects.
8. Allow Team Members to Contribute
It is not enough just for members of the team to be aware of goals – for them to feel passionate and ultimately part of the company direction they also be able to put forward ideas, innovations and thoughts to improve systems. Ideas, feedback and innovations coming directly from employees on the coal face not only strengthens individual’s commitment but also the cohesiveness.
9. The Learning Environment
There is nothing worse than a feeling of “same-old, same-old” tasks in a work environment of repetitive tasks. It leads to de-motivation and absenteeism. Workers need to feel they are developing and progressing within their own careers to remain loyal and motivated to brand mission and goals. This is not just about mandatory group training sessions but focusing on individual skills and using role changes within the team to enhance those skills, pass those skills onto others and nurture new skills.
10. Support and Days Out
And don’t forget work does not necessarily have to mean “noses to the grindstone” between 9-5. A frequent nice surprise in the office (doughnuts today!) can add variety and lift the dull ache of work blues. Diary in those days out when the team just has a great day out (manager included!)
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