People don’t always like working in teams, but no one can deny the importance they have in an organization. With 86% of managers rating teamwork as a critical skill and 39% of employees wanting more collaboration in their organization, there’s no longer a doubt that finding the best way to build teams is not an option. Here are three ways to unleash the power of your existing team personality traits by understanding what they value and how to align it within your company.
Never Stop Cultivating
When hiring a new employee, most organizations allow for a grace period where the new hire learns to be more productive and confident. This makes sense as it’s estimated to take 5 months for an employee to even be working at a 100% productivity rate.
Similarly, teams don’t hop right into being comfortable with producing new ideas. As a manager or leader, it’s best to encourage professional office relationships before a team is needed. Employees don’t need to like each other and be friends outside of work to be comfortable innovating together.
Holding weekly or monthly meetings in which all employees can decompress and reflect on wins and challenges will not only create an environment of support, but also develop jokes and cultural distinctions. Of course, these meetings aren’t always so easy to create depending on the size of your organization or the nature of your industry. Luckily, simply taking a little extra time in the essential meetings to help all people participate or be present can be an effective alternative.
Sociability Alert: Do not push your quieter folk into participating. These individuals can shine in team settings, but do not generally thrive when prodded into speaking up in larger meetings. Poking too much can have the opposite effect and instead instill fear of group settings, no matter the size.
It’s very easy to get caught up in piling projects and simply put whoever isn’t completely overwhelmed with deliverables into a newly developed team. Obviously, if easy were always the best option, there would be a whole lot less famous quotes about working hard for big profit. Instead, you will save time, money and frustration if you give a little thought to who would handle a project well.
Start with who will not only enjoy the challenge of the task, but has the skill or the ability to learn the skill required. From there, think about who will complement those individuals. Avoid putting people who are too alike together. While those people will enjoy being partnered, they will fall into groupthink that hinders the creativity. If needed, do not be afraid to encourage debate or assign someone to the “devil’s advocate” role. The goal should be to keep the individuality that will create progress while finding harmony between differences.
Focus Alert: Recognize that some of your employees will not tell you they cannot handle the amount of work they have waiting in the wings. Before even discussing the team project, ask the employee what their current workload looks like and if anything can be pushed or adjusted to make room for a more pressing piece.
Create the Framework
Micromanaging a team project is a huge no-no. While some employees aren’t afraid to challenge their leaders, most will sit back and let you run the whole meeting if you want. The goal is to let teams solve problems and possibly unearth better ideas and more effective processes. That won’t happen if you’re running the show. In fact, 55% of employees admitted that micromanagement kills productivity and 68% say it lowers morale – two things no leader can afford.
Instead, develop a document with goals, tasks, deadlines and all the other necessary information as a guide. That way, you can be sure that you aren’t taking over, but the team is staying on track as well. Remember, sometimes less is more.
Agreeableness Alert: There are always going to be people ready to step in when the boss is gone. This can be a huge attribute to an organization, but it can also create for some frazzled and stressed employees. Identify the employees who can get carried away in group settings and encourage them to ask the quieter, more go with the flow types to speak up. If there’s any doubt, throw a team player in the mix to even the two individuals out.
“None of us is as smart as all of us.” – Warren Bennis, Author of Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration
Most workplaces consist of a group of individuals who come together to achieve common goals through common interests and varying strengths and weaknesses. Part of what makes a team great is the differences each person offers, yet those differences are just what has managers scratching their head when it comes time to form one. If leaders begin by recognizing the power of the current team, there will be no denying the success of projects or new hire additions.
What are you doing today to build teamwork?