I was flipping through the “Today” papers on my way to conduct training and came across an informative write-up. It’s about building and raising team spirit. I call this in my seminars and talks an essential Component of Excellence (CoE). No company or organization can run well without effective team togetherness and the sense of belonging. It’s just that crucial.
Excited as I was, I couldn’t wait to post these useful tips for your immediate application. Of course, credits must go to Kim Kanaga and Henry Browning, who are both faculty members of the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL).
Here are the keys to raising team spirit and performance in your group:
EVERY team, be it a customer service unit, sales division or globe-spanning multinational, cannot simply expect to maintain the status quo.
It should constantly improve and do what is needed to meet stakeholder expectations of greater efficiency, productivity and profitability. Six key factors can have a significant impact on performance:
1. Clear purpose
Teams frequently fail when they lack clarity of purpose.
Without it, the level of effort and motivation suffer and disagreements or conflicts arise more easily. There is also a greater chance of the duplication of tasks.
One test is to ask different team members to summarize the collective goal. If answers differ widely, you need to explain things more clearly.
2. A Well-defined structure
An organizational structure that clearly demarcates different functions, roles and responsibilities allows the best use of resources. It should take full account of competencies required for each job, the overall workload and the need for stability and backup.
As a business expands, new competencies and additional personnel will be required, while other roles become less important. So, the structure should be flexible to ensure that changes do not cause disruption or lead to a section being snowed under and another over-staffed.
An ill-defined structure can create tension and frustration over roles and make it more difficult to spot where key skills are lacking. Teams work best when each member knows their prime function.
3. Strong support
To be consistently effective, a team needs support, resources and rewards. These come from different points in the organization but, ultimately, senior management must provide what is needed to perform.
One of the most important ways is by designing a suitable reward system — but rewards need not be financial. Recognition from colleagues, celebrating milestones or educational opportunities can serve as team-centered rewards.
4. Positive relationships
Personal tensions or strained relationships among team members can make life difficult. The cause is often mistrust or competition and may stem from a misunderstanding of what the team is expected to achieve.
In such cases, it is vital to intervene and listen to both sides of the story. Only then can you decide how to effect reconciliation or re-establish good relations.
An offsite meeting or social gathering can help build camaraderie and reinforce team spirit.
5. Good external contacts
No team exists in a vacuum; so, performing effectively depends on understanding contrasting viewpoints of external stakeholders, such as competitors, suppliers, partners, regulatory agencies and customers.
As the external environment changes constantly, the work of building relationships must be proactive and continuous. For example, invite a vendor or customer to speak to your team. You could also arrange tours of your facilities and theirs to better understand each other’s operations and needs.
6. Efficient information management
For many organizations, managing information needed for optimal performance is a major challenge. Without this, decisions get postponed and everyday business can grind to a halt.
To be sure your team has the information needed to perform, review the speed and effectiveness of all your standard communication channels regularly.
This includes a look at which meetings are useful and which can be modified or dropped. Be flexible and do not insist, for example, on a formal written report if an email or verbal update is quicker.
These six factors can be vital to assess performance and to stay on track. If you analyze problems thoroughly and pinpoint the difficulties, it is possible to take steps toward a workable solution.
By doing so, you can ensure your team operates at peak efficiency and achieves its goals.
Let us Excel Beyond Excellence!