Some teams manage to be high performing in spite of stormy relationships and a lack of cohesion. On the other hand, there are also teams with smooth relationships but paltry results.
Unfortunately, there’s more to creating an effective team than simply bringing together a few talented people who appreciate one another’s company. So what are the ingredients for a successful, collaborative work team?
In a nutshell:
- How can we ensure that teamwork is focused on both collaboration and performance?
- How can we develop a strong sense of belonging around a common purpose?
- How can we ensure good team cohesion?
- How can we build resilience within the work team?
Establishing a common purpose
Having a common purpose is essential in order to unite team members.
The purpose should align with a rich, inspiring and engaging mission so that it’s meaningful to the team.
The generic missions plastered all over too many websites today are no longer enough to create a sense of belonging among your employees.
💡 I know a boss who went around his workplace every week asking his employees to tell him why they were there, as a way of motivating them. What a great way to keep a corporate mission in sight and stay inspired!
It’s up to you to find the best way to keep your company’s mission alive on a daily basis. Make sure your employees really find meaning in it and embody it in their actions.
For better collaboration, implement rules of conduct
To foster collaboration, it’s important to establish some ground rules, or more specifically, rules of conduct that govern interactions. Make sure they’re clear and precise, otherwise it will be difficult to stick to the code.
In the grey areas there are countless opportunities for misunderstandings and irritants.
Rules of conduct help foster satisfying interactions
Become a better performing team by clarifying your rules of conduct. Here are some examples that our entire marketing team agrees on:
- Criticism, both negative and constructive, is given individually;
- Empty, unexplained feedback is prohibited;
- Constructive comments are free of sarcasm;
- Everyone makes an effort to let others speak their mind (and not cut them off when they’re speaking);
- Everyone is honest about needing help or lacking the knowledge to accomplish a task: we set our boundaries directly;
- We address irritants immediately and with the right people.
Work on team cohesion
Team cohesion is an indisputable strength. A close-knit work team is more likely to perform well, collaborate better and band together in the face of adversity.
To improve cohesion among your work team, there’s nothing like doing activities together outside of work.
Activities promote fun and play, and provide an opportunity to get to know one another better. What’s more, activities make it possible to bring out the different personalities of your coworkers, without the filters that come with the work context.
💡 Here, we have a different team activity every month, from curling and archery competitions to paintball, hiking, Escaparium, happy hours and more. We have a blast!
Work on the boss/employee relationship
The relationship between the boss and each employee is of paramount importance.
It can become a special relationship, or on the contrary, a tense and superficial one. Cultivating this relationship in different ways should be among a manager’s top concerns.
As a manager, you can first and foremost inspire authenticity and openness in your employees by being vulnerable yourself, such as admitting a mistake or talking about your weaknesses.
Another way to do this is to set aside time for regular one-on-one talks.
Organizing one-on-one meetings helps each member of the work team feel good and stay motivated. Specifically, they let you:
- Check up on each employee;
- Address irritants;
- Take an interest in the employee’s personal life, before certain problems spill over into their performance.
They absolutely deserve a place in your schedule, whether monthly, biweekly or even weekly.
Focus on the role of leader in the team
The leader has a critical role to play in performance and collaboration within their team. Leadership and emotional intelligence help bring the team around a common purpose, driven by inspiration and a common vision.
A leader is someone whose transparency about their own strengths and weaknesses creates a climate of authenticity and sharing within the team—essential conditions for well-being and fulfilment.
Moreover, as Adam Grant says in Think Again, a leader who knows how to normalize vulnerability and authenticity enables employees to open up about their own challenges. This brings us to the concept of psychological safety, which only a manager can establish in a team. “With psychological safety, people admit errors and voice suggestions. They strive to improve themselves and protect their team.”
Resilience as a team sport
Plainly said, resilience is the ability to bounce back from hardships, even when they seem overwhelming. This might at first seem like an individual affair. Yet, in a work context, it is quite the opposite. Here at Agendrix, resilience is truly a team sport.
When we’re struggling at work, our relationships with our coworkers are what help us get through the ordeal.
Resilience is a friend helping us keep our head above water by making us laugh,
a coworker reminding us of our strengths and skills when we feel down and out, or a boss who knows how to bring us back to the facts when we’ve gotten too emotional.
These are people who nurture our resilience.
On a small scale, you can take a number of actions to foster this kind of connection in the face of adversity, so that when a real challenge arises, your team members know how to join forces.
💡 Each week, during a team meeting, encourage your team members to tackle a challenge encountered at work the previous week.
💡 Invite the others to brainstorm on this challenge and find a solution together.
💡 Organize days or afternoons to brainstorm ways to improve your practices.
💡 Do a sport together!
Relationships are the fuel of team performance
What leader doesn’t want their work team to be effective and efficient? We can try to achieve this by acting on various factors such as improving workplaces, raising salaries, or even... increasing pressure. But a successful work team is actually a team of employees who are doing well, who feel stronger together, and who genuinely matter to their leader.
In other words, if you want your work team to reach its full potential, put people first in your management.