Truly effective teams can drive change within the workplace and catalyze growth across entire organizations. Of course, achieving optimal team effectiveness isn’t the easiest task. It takes time and hard, sometimes uncomfortable, work. However, if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can take your team to the next level and achieve astonishing results.
To get started, focus on making improvements in these five key areas:
Some professionals resist forming strong bonds with co-workers for fear of creating distractions or crossing ethical lines, Harvard Business Review reported. Others are more introverted and prefer less induction. Others prefer to work as lone rangers. Unfortunately, this hands-off approach to workplace relationship-building can negatively impact team effectiveness. To establish group synergy, team members must connect, even if it’s awkward.
“We worry about rejection and think back to our fear of being the last person picked for the team in [physical education class],” Susan David, Ph.D., co-founder of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, explained in an interview with the publication. “That discomfort is critical to your growth as a person.”
You don’t have to throw your team members into uncomfortable social situations to build bonds. Instead, start small. Encourage them to learn things about each other and search for common interests, or ask that they make an effort to simply greet their fellow team members when they arrive in the morning. These tiny exercises may lead to more robust interactions and, eventually, real connection. Obviously, avoid forcing the issue. Taking a heavy-handed relationship-building approach may achieve the opposite results.
Collaboration improves team effectiveness and produces better results.
In recent years, employee engagement numbers have fallen sharply. Currently, only 31 percent of U.S. workers say they feel engaged at the office, according to recent data from Gallup. Many experts attribute this lack of engagement to mistrust between employees, their co-workers and leadership. Modern professionals believe that they literally cannot afford to trust anyone at work, even teammates.
Though you can’t single-handedly quicken the economic recovery or offer your employees insurances regarding job security, you can foster trust by facilitating a transparent, growth-oriented team culture, Fast Company reported. To start, deconstruct the concept of trust in the workplace and try understand why workers might put their faith in fellow team members. Industry authorities say it comes down to three variables: alignment, competence and past behavior.
Take these to heart and look for growth opportunities within your team. Are all individual contributors philosophically compatible? Do they possess the skills necessary to perform effectively? Have any disturbing behavioral trends immerged? If you identify problems that may be wicking away at teamwide trust, find solutions and discuss them with your team.
Collaboration and Communication
In today’s mercurial business world, teams must collaborate and communicate to maintain their nimbleness and effectively adjust to organizational and sectorwide shifts. To facilitate collaboration and improve communication, you first need to secure the required technology. For instance, if many of your team members work remotely, consider adopting new communication tools that might lead to more collaboration. Next, encourage true teamwork by breaking down physical barriers. Are co-workers divided by drab cubicle walls or spread out in different locations throughout the office? Remove these obstructions and get everyone together.
“Teams must collaborate and communicate to maintain their nimbleness.”
Additionally, address the more philosophical aspects of workplace collaboration by establishing a sense of community with post-work events or midday visits. Show your team that they are truly in it together.
Even the most connected, collaborative teams experience strife. In times of stress, interpersonal conflicts inevitably arise and it’s your job to deal with them in an effective and professional manner. Luckily, most conflict resolution techniques are cut and dry.
First, take some time and understand the problem by asking the conflicting parties to share their perspectives, Entrepreneur advised. Once you’ve established a strong grasp on the issue at hand, organize a mediation session to try and find some common ground – your company and team mission is a good place to start. Throughout this process, remain impartial and avoid labeling the participants, as this can impede things. Be sure to discuss labeling with the rest of the team, as well. You don’t want small spats to influence team wide perceptions and hurt team effectiveness.
High-functioning teams don’t cap their potential – they grow and change in an effort to become as effective as possible. Most accomplish this through ongoing education, with contributors regularly developing and refining their skills all in the service of team goals.
To start developing a culture of continual improvement, first assess your employees individually to look for improvement opportunities. Next, ask them what skills they would like work on or acquire. This will get them engaged and interested in possible training opportunities. Over the course of these discussions, ask them about their learning styles so you can tailor training to fit each individual. Then, seek out the right training resources. Online courses are a convenient option, as they are effective and easy to deploy and manage.
“High-functioning teams don’t cap their potential.”
Regularly check in with your workers to see how the training is going and review their progress when they surpass critical milestones. Additionally, always encourage team members to train together when possible. This will not only help them develop new skills but also grow relationships and promote collaboration.
Of course, before you address the variables that ultimately influence team effectiveness or use the strategies above, perform an initial evaluation to see where you stand. The Corporate Learning Institute offers the Team Assess Survey, a comprehensive team performance barometer that touches on seven different subject areas: team type, team output, team effectiveness, team leadership, team infrastructure, individual contributions and organizational support.