Make Your Team Work
It makes sense that employees should perform to a higher degree when working as part of a team, but that isn’t what most businesses experience. Instead of utilizing the skills and expertise of each team member as valuable resources and pulling from one another to complete more work in less time, professional teams often suffer from disagreements, the inability to make decisions or a complete breakdown in communication.
Rather than increasing productivity, workflow can drastically slow down when groups are created. There are many reasons that teams are unproductive, but it often comes down to one of these factors:
• Personality clashes
• Fears of losing control
• Worries over job security
• Lack of communication skills
• Lack of passion and commitment to the team’s goals
If your goal is to create teams that consistently generate creative ideas and follow through on efficient processes to reach ambitious goals, you will have to think about all elements of the team before they are even placed in a group together. Passionate and productive teams must comprise of members who work well with one another, trust one another and share a commitment to meeting specific goals. It only takes one person with the wrong attitude or a lack of commitment to sabotage the entire team.
Look Beyond Resumes
If you’re hiring new employees and know that they will operate as part of a team, it’s important to look at factors beyond what you see in their resume or portfolio. Your goal is to pick candidates that will work well with one another, and it’s best if each team member has personal passions that correspond to the goals of the team. You can do this by deliberating about a few of these points with regards to each candidate you’re considering as a team addition:
• Has this candidate expressed passions that are in line with the team’s mission?
• What specific skills does this candidate possess, and how will those skills help this team succeed?
• Does this candidate possess strong communication skills, and displayed an ability to work as a team through past experiences?
• Does this candidate enjoy brainstorming creative ideas in a group environment, or is he or she more inclined to think creatively during independent work sessions?
While you do want to consider a potential employee’s professional experience, spend as much time looking at each candidate’s personal experiences. Determine what gets them excited and what they need to get inspired or to think creatively. While each member of the team should have unique skills that will help the team accomplish their goals, you want to make sure that they share a passion for the work at hand. This should make it easier to get them to bond and trust one another in a professional sense.
Remember, Communication is Key
All professional teams change with time. Members adjust the way that they relate to one another and how tasks are distributed, and different projects may bring out new concerns for the team as a whole. The best way to ensure that these inevitable problems don’t escalate into issues that debilitate the team and interfere with your company’s productivity is to make open communication a rule right from the start. This means ensuring that all members of the team are communicating with one another openly and in an efficient manner. It also means making sure that the team is not isolated and has access to members of management and other teams or departments whenever needed.
Utilize technology to allow the team to communicate in ways that work for each member. For instance, some teams may prefer an open workspace where they can see one another and communicate every day rather than holding formal meetings and working out of private offices. A team with members working from home or traveling frequently may prefer to meet through video-conferencing programs, and they may need to share documents in real time via a computer.
Rather than setting concrete rules on how your teams communicate, allow each of them to create their own structure of operations. If they are also able to reach members of management and other teams as needed, you may find that each team is far more efficient when permitted to work according to their shared preferences.
You may also want to assign one person outside of the team to mediate personal issues between members. This allows each team member to talk openly to an unbiased mediator when they have a problem. The mediator can provide an outside view of the situation and help the team overcome these problems before they slow down productivity or negatively impact the business as a whole.
The most effective teams often don’t have a traditional structure with one primary boss. They have agreed upon responsibilities and an established system for holding one another accountable. There are fewer power struggles because all members know that they are valued, have a clear role within the group, and are supported by the others. Rather than having one person in charge, they are mutually responsible for holding one another to their assigned duties.
Admit When It’s Not Working
You won’t always get everything right the first time you try to put a team together. You may find that one member just isn’t willing to sacrifice personal ideas in order to compromise with others. Perhaps a few members of the team aren’t as passionate about the work at hand as you initially believed, and their lack of commitment impacts the positive spirit of other team members.
When a team consistently fails to meet your expectations or meet clearly established goals, it’s important to identify the problem and take swift action. The longer you allow a problem to linger, the more damage it can do to the morale of the team.
You may need to replace a member of the team, offer new resources and tools to help the team work more efficiently, or guide the team in developing new business operations. If there are outside influences causing problems within the team or preventing them from reaching their goals, you may need to deal with those influences in order to support the team’s ability to succeed.
Innovation requires creativity, and creative personalities aren’t always the easiest to work with in a group setting. If you take the time to put the right people in contact and allow them to communicate openly and determine how they want to relate to one another, then chances are high that you can create a productive team that serves your business well with passion and commitment.
A business coach can help you fashion the right team and equally important, make every member feel like they’re a vital part of the picture and that their innovation and creativity are rewarded.