Leaders in every organization talk about building the team, working as a team, and “my” team. Yet few understand how to build and create a strong, supportive business team.
Why is this?
Because most skilled company executives and managers are exploring ways to improve business results and rightfully so, view team-based organization structures as the best design for involving employees in creating business success.
No matter what you call your team-building efforts – whether it is continuous improvement, total quality, or lean manufacturing – you are striving to improve results for customers.
Unfortunately, few organizations are pleased with the results their team efforts produce. If this describes your organization, then you will gain a tremendous edge by learning what our experience has shown in helping organizations across North America and Europe to build and create strong, supportive teams.
We call these “truths” because they have stood the test of time.
That is, in our work spanning over 25 years, these truths of creating strong, supportive teams in the workplace continue to re-occur across time, genders, industry verticals, and national boundaries.
The Six Truths to Creating a Strong, Supportive Team are:
- Truth One: A Sense of Commitment
- Truth Two: Showing Appreciation
- Truth Three: Sharing Positive Communication
- Truth Four: Spending Off-Line Time Together
- Truth Five: Shared Values
- Truth Six: Cope with the Unexpected
Let’s review each and provide some practical actions on what you can do to ensure success in your quest for creating a strong, supportive team in your organization
Truth One: A Sense of Commitment
A commitment is a promise.
Applied to a workplace team, it is a sense of responsibility or duty that allows team members to override temporary conflicts that often surface in organizations. Members of strong teams take this commitment seriously. For them it is conscious, unwavering and unconditional.
Understand that this does not mean that strong teams are immune to problems, for they too face changing priorities, budget restrictions, and competing demands just as others employees do. However, for those in strong teams, having a sense of commitment means that team members help each other out during such situations. They make the team relationship a priority even above their personal needs.
At the core of having this team sense of commitment is the idea of putting the interests of the team ahead of ones own. An idea that reflects the values of the team and the integrity a strong team demonstrates.
To Build a Strong Sense of Commitment you must do the following:
- Spend one hour each month discussing the Team goals, what each member is doing to meet them, and what remains as the top three priorities for the team over the next 30 days. Listen to each other openly.
- Designate an area in the workplace (wall, conference room etc.) as the “Team Area.” Populate this area with Team material. It could be charts, photos, selected topic readings related to the work of the team. The goal is to have a “Team place to go.”
- Make a record of the Team history (web-based or print) that captures historic dates, special events, accomplishments, and recognition/awards for the Team.
Truth Two: Showing Appreciation
Strong, supportive teams share in common the ability to show appreciation to each other on a consistent basis. In showing appreciation, team members are essentially expressing that their fellow teammates are appreciated.
As is in other aspects of relationships, building people’s self-esteem is a dominant and critical variable in achieving superior performance.
Strong teams who express appreciation to their members, tell them and show them how they are valued and this contributes greatly to the team’s emotional wellness. Teams that nurture this emotional wellness are teams that reinforce healthy personalities. This is vital because healthy personalities get things done.
To show appreciation, do the following:
- Set a goal to give a fellow team member at least one compliment each week
- Focus on creating a positive working environment by limiting negative statements. Instead, try to re-frame them into positive ones. For example, instead of saying,”You are always pushing to have your ideas implemented”, try saying, ”I know how concerned you are in generating ideas the team can act on.”
- Write down ten things you like about each of your team members and look for opportunities to tell them.
Truth Three: Sharing Positive Communication
Strong, supportive teams spend a great deal of time talking to one another. This “talk” is both about trivial issues as well as important issues.
Clearly, communicating on a continual basis makes team members feel connected and this feeling of connection allows team members to feel free to exchange information and ideas. Why is this important? Because teams who share positive communications are teams who are good at solving problems. Teams that do this well take the time to set aside the time to talk. When they do they focus on the team’s progress and team’s behavior.
To share positive communications do the following:
- Designate time for the team to talk about those things the team is doing well and those things the team can start doing better.
- Take a critical look at the team’s communication patterns and determine how they might be improved. For example, look for the team’s use of sarcasm, creating drama, or cutting one another off when speaking. Periodically using a skilled organizational consultant or executive coach can be beneficial to help the team uncover ways to exploit the sharing of positive communication.