Ask SmallBiz: Creating a Team Environment

Q.We have great employees, but everyone seems to operate from a different agenda. How can we create a team approach?

A. Employees are willing to collaborate when they have the necessary tools and work environment to support and reward teamwork. Managers can take these five steps to increase collaboration within your company.

1. Communicate a crystal-clear vision of your company, its goals and its values.

A vision is a powerful tool for creating a sense of shared purpose among employees. Clearly state that the company wants its employees to collaborate and cooperate with each other in achieving company goals.

2. Find what hampers and what promotes teamwork within your organization. 

Use a staff survey to ask employees for their positive and negative experiences in working with others on a team. Assure the employees that this information will help management provide better support for team efforts. 
On-site observations of team meetings are a great way to gain insight into specific behaviors and work situations that affect teamwork. Trained professionals can make unbiased observations of events that trigger positive or negative team interaction. Real-life examples of communication among team members are difficult to capture from written surveys.

3. Maintain structured staff meetings for face-to-face conversation and interaction to break down silos.

Communicating electronically can save time for busy people, but face-to-face talks are still necessary for building trust and developing rapport. Under skilled leadership, meaningful processes to solve problems can happen through meetings as short as a 15-minute “huddle.” 
To improve the effectiveness of meetings, provide training and coaching in essential teamwork skills such as communication and problem solving. Self-assessment and/or 360-degree questionnaires can help identify employees’ needs and interests.

4. Hold all members of the team accountable for their commitments and actions.

The lack of accountability within a team erodes trust and enthusiasm among the members. There must be follow-up and follow-through on agreements and commitments made at meetings if teamwork is to thrive.

5. Reward both team efforts and individual efforts that benefit the team.

To foster teamwork, you must measure it and reward it. If your company wants to leverage team synergy to achieve company goals, establish formal ways to recognize and reward both individual behaviors that support team efforts and the actual team accomplishments.

Kalei Inn is an organizational and leadership development consultant and coach. 
Contact her company, Kalei Inn, PhD and Associates, LLC, 
at (808) 383-8657

Categories: Leadership