I think most leaders would like their teams to work together better at some point. Perhaps the team is new or the dynamics just aren’t sitting right or maybe the team has never really functioned as well as it could. I’d like to suggest some ways that your team could understand each other better and work together more effectively.
Fundamentally the simplest area to look at is how the team is communicating. Having open and honest communication can take away the ‘indirect language’ that causes confusion and assumptions. As the leader, you should lead by example and ensure that what you say is clear and to the point. Encourage the type of communication with each other in the team to be the same. One simple test is to ask team members to make sure ‘an exchange of understanding’ has taken place. This means clarifying and checking understanding. It’s not enough to say: “I sent you an email” or: “I told you about that”. Check that people both receive and understand the communication.
2. Share preferences
Have the team members get in the habit of sharing their preferred way of dealing with work things. For example, if someone prefers to have time to think about a topic rather than be expected to share opinions on it at short notice encourage them to declare that preference. Some people get annoyed when people don’t speak up at meetings when it just may be the person’s preference to think things through. If people hate it when agendas aren’t adhered to, learn to understand that preference. When team members are sensitive to other’s preferences, they understand them and their point of view much better. Consider preferences in organisational, work habit, meetings, process and communication areas especially. You could take five minutes each team meeting to take turns and share a preference or two each. These preferences can be explored well using the TMI profile (TMP Profile).
3. Express thanks & Celebrate successes
Take time out to thank, enjoy and celebrate when things have gone well. Cultivate a culture of appreciation – even if it’s for people doing their job. When an achievement is made which is out of the ordinary, take time to celebrate the achievement. If people feel appreciated, they are likely to respond better when you need them to push a bit further or stay a bit later. Appreciation, compliments and rewards all help to motivate people.
Establish a culture of accountability. If someone is not pulling their weight, you need to address it. Team members that work hard see when others aren’t putting in the same effort. You need to show to the whole team that fairness is a principle you want to adopt. You can build trust faster in a team when you hold each team member accountable for their efforts and results. Consider consequences for non-performance or below par effort. Positive consequences for good performance will include areas in point 3 above.
Help develop the team by sharing responsibility. Delegate some tasks to help develop skills. Challenge the team so they are given opportunities to grow and stretch. This means they may make mistakes – make sure that’s okay and help them to learn and recover from them. If you don’t allow mistakes people won’t want to try new thing because they’ll be too afraid to. Remember that if you are looking for a promotion at some point, you want to have someone prepared to take over your role otherwise you may not get the chance.
Remember that the three main drivers for people are:
- Need to Achieve
- Burn to Learn
- Craving to Contribute.
If you’re ever stuck on what to do for your team, look at the three drivers above and you won’t go wrong.