How can you inspire great teamwork?
“Working together” is easier said than done. Especially when you’re with a group of people where working towards a common goal can be tricky. It’s even more of a struggle when you’re a team leader in an organization. Upper management often expects a lot from you. The burden of it can weigh heavy when you must also manage and understand the needs of your team.
Utilize Team Selection
Do you have the power to select your own team? If so, the first important factor is not only to consider if they are competent and knowledgeable but also to assess if their personalities complement that of their peers.
In this way, you will avoid a dysfunctional group and instead have the chance to enhance team chemistry. Research has shown that better performing teams have better team chemistry; collaborating through face-to-face communication which instills a sense of trust between teammates and helps drives team engagement. In truth, putting together a team involves some ruthless decisions about membership; not everyone who wants to be on the team should be included, and some individuals should be forced off. If tensions arise, often as a team leader you must have the courage to make tough decisions.
This is especially the case if you did not have the freedom to select your team or if your initial choices did not give expected results. However, you can understand whether a team will work well together based on initial interactions between peers, the way they work together progressively, and the method of communication you encourage. You can also open discussions about personality differences and encourage team members to understand varying personalities through guidebooks like Career Match, which identifies common personality differences and how to work with them.
Set Team Goals & Authority
Setting goals and a direction can be emotionally demanding because it always involves exercising authority, and not everyone may feel comfortable by your level of authority. You may not even be 100% sure whether the direction you made was the right one. However, your first impressions and overall attitude can make a difference.
Will Rogers once said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
This is partly true; your team’s first impression of you affects how you are perceived by them even if they may be subject to change. In order to introduce ambitious goals, use the first meeting and first impressions to your advantage by confidently addressing the meeting procedures and discussions. Then over time, adjust your attitude to set your authoritative role in the team so that you can ensure some form of hierarchy for effective task completion and respect.
Be Aware of Team Needs
It should not be entirely about strict roles, responsibilities and deadlines. It’s also important to consider openness to new ideas and a collaborative, supportive, but mediated form of communication. In this kind of environment, you can assess whether you are providing the needs of individuals in the team. A good litmus test is to see if you know if your members can answer, “Yes” to these questions:
- Does the team appreciate the value I add to the work?
- Do I get along well with my team and learn new things for the sake of my personal or professional development?
- Am I provided opportunities for growth?
By considering these factors, you can divide the burden of tasks within your team easily and let the progressive list of responsibilities and collaborative work strengthen your team instead of breaking it.
(Artwork by Oleg Beresnev)