Performance indicators show that a productive and effective team will almost always outperform people working individually. This is particularly true in high-pressure situations or in situations when multiple skill sets are needed.
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as most organisations are recognizing the importance of team building and are trying to foster it in the workplace. However, building effective teams requires more than an abstract commitment to teamwork. It requires input from leaders and managers to foster it.
Here are 6 ways to build a more productive and effective team:
1. Set a vision, values, and goals for the team
Without a vision, team members won’t understand what they’re working toward or what part they play in the greater whole. This sense of purpose is vital in the creation of a productive and effective team. When people feel aimless and insignificant in their job positions, the desire to produce their best work is non-existent. They need to know why they’re doing what they’re doing, who their work affects, and why they’re vital to the company.
Similarly, once your team understands the company vision, values and goals keep them on track toward accomplishing that vision. Many leaders are seeing the benefits of including their team in the vision-casting, value-developing, and goal-setting process. When you bring your team on board from the start, they feel a sense of ownership of what’s created. Equally important, they know firsthand what’s required of them and can agree to it early on.
2. Build relationships with and within your team
Try to learn more about each member of your team and their skill sets. Find out how they are motivated and their likes and dislikes. This knowledge is invaluable to leaders, as it allows them to match each employee’s expertise and competencies to specific problems. This will help increase their productivity and job satisfaction. Everyone loves experiencing a win. The more you connect team members to challenges they’re likely to overcome, the more wins they’ll experience, thus boosting their morale and confidence.
But also make sure your team members are building relationships with each other as well. One of the biggest contributing factors to workplace stress is negative relationships. There’s a reason why companies invest so much in team-building activities. When people get along, they’re more cooperative with one another and thus more productive.
3. Keep communication central
As your team starts to cooperate more, examine the way they work together and take steps to improve communication, cooperation and trust amongst the team. If there are any conflicts, try to resolve them amicably. Listen to both sides of the argument and act as a mediator.
One way to do this is to brainstorm solutions together, which helps to empower your employees and may lead to new solutions to the problem.
4. Make room for autonomy
Instead of delegating tasks, give your teams open-ended projects and allow them to determine the best solution. This will encourage them to cooperate and develop problem-solving skills.
People love the feeling of autonomy in the workplace, and this kind of freedom will allow them to take ownership of projects and willingly go the extra mile.
5. Be generous with free time
A few years ago, it came out that Google allowed its employees to spend 20% of their time on their own projects. “This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner,” wrote Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google’s founders.
Of course, even so much as allowing your team longer breaks can do wonders for productivity, as it proves to rejuvenate the mind. When employees are treated with care and respect, they work more effectively and with more passion. In fact, it seems to be the case that during the time when we step away from the computer is when the solutions to problems begin to surface in our minds.
6. Implement training sessions
Finally, don’t neglect opportunities to up-level your team through workplace seminars, lectures, and/or practical activities. Whether the focus is on mastering a skill or building communication, training sessions allow for engagement and collaboration, which ensures your team members come together in a productive manner.
Lunch-and-learns are a very popular example of this, with workplaces inviting industry experts to come on-site for an hour and teach on a particular topic while your team enjoys lunch. Not only do your employees get great information out of it, but they’ll also feel greater job satisfaction knowing you care about their development and edification.
Team building is one of the most important responsibilities a leader has. It isn’t something that can be achieved in a short time and then be forgotten, though. It is an ongoing organic process that you will have to facilitate and guide again and again. As this process unfolds, however, your team members will begin to trust and support one another and share their skill sets and efforts in order to more effectively and productively complete your company’s goals.
Rosalind Cardinal is the Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, a consultancy specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations.
Ros is a solutions and results oriented facilitator and leadership coach, with a career in the Human Resources and Organisational Development field spanning more than 20 years. Ros’ expertise spans leadership development, organisational culture, team building, change and transition management, emotional intelligence, organisational behaviour, employee engagement, strategic direction and management.
Ros is a Certified Member of the Australian Human Resources Institute (CAHRI), a member of the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) and a Professional Member of the Australian Association for Psychological Type (AusAPT). She holds a Graduate Diploma in Human Resources from Deakin University, an Australian Human Resources Institute Professional Diploma in Human Resources and has completed the Australian Graduate School of Management Executive Program, Strategic Human Resource Management.