From childhood, we’re constantly reminded of the value of teamwork. Whether it’s the little league team, the team of friends in a tug-of-war game, or the corporate team you’re a part of, everything works better and more smoothly when people work together.
If you think back to your first job, you can probably remember figuring out how to navigate team dynamics while completing your own tasks well. It takes experience to stay focused on your job while keeping an eye toward the bigger picture and how you’re helping the organization as a whole.
As a manager, part of your job is to help employees navigate this territory. Below are a few ways you can encourage your staff to work together so you all reap the rewards of a high-functioning team.
Share a vision
The most important element of teamwork is sharing a common vision so that everyone can work togethet toward it. When everyone on your team knows your goals and vision, they better understand their role in realizing it.
Don’t be shy about communicating your true vision and goals to your team. Do you hope to be the best in your neighborhood? In the world? Do you want to provide the best experience for every customer that walks through your doors? Tell your employees, so they can all look to your vision for guidance and inspiration.
Set team-based goals
One step below your vision is a set of goals. Your goals can be time-based (monthly, annual) or based on things like revenue or feedback.
Regardless of how you structure your goals, make sure every employee knows that the team is working toward each goal together. This provides accountability and a specific expectation for staff members. And, when you reach the goal together, don’t forget to provide an incentive for a job well done.
It’s tough to work well together when you don’t understand how someone’s role is different (or similar) to your own. Clarifying roles is an essential part of running a well functioning team.
It’s important to be proactive in outlining team roles. If you wait for questions to arise, it means you’re losing critical producitivity and team-building opportunities. As you outline new goals for your team, make sure you’re also outlining each member’s role and responsibilities in reaching those goals - either in a meeting, or one-on-one with each person.
No one likes to be kept in the dark, and withholding information from team members is a surefire way to create confusion and resentment among team members. It can also create competitive undercurrents in your organization, which is the antithesis of teamwork.
Be clear with everyone on your team about new information as it relates to your business and your goals. Your staff will appreciate being kept in the loop, and more importantly, it sends the message that you value and respect their place in the organization.
When it comes to teamwork, one of the most detrimental forces is a management team that micromanages. A team functions best when they are empowered to make important decisions and complete the critical tasks that move an organization forward. We have outlined a few ways you can do this as it relates to creating the employee schedule here.
In some cases, you may need to be overt about empowering your team. Tell them that you expect and encourage them to be self-starters, to take tasks on themselves and to complete things without typical “approvals” (if possible). By doing so, you’re sending a message of trust and respect to everyone on your team.
As a manager, hopefully you’ve been able to build a culture of openness and feedback with your team. And since you’ve done so, you’re hopefully hearing the highs and lows of employee experience on a regular basis.
The important thing when it comes to feedback is not to glaze over or dismiss it. Your responsibility is to listen and really hear the feedback your employees have so you can address it in a way that improves the team dynamic. Be patient, and make sure your employees know that you’re there to listen and help whenever they need you.
Discuss team dynamics
Lastly, encourage a dialogue about the way your team works together. Sure, it would be nice if it could all just work smoothly, but the reality is that you’ll often need to address the dynamics and make sure everyone is on the same page. Staff meetings, one-on-one conversations, and emails are all great ways to do this.
When your team functions well together, you’ll feel it - and leaning on these tips will help make sure it stays that way for the long-term.