To build a cohesive collaborative team takes time and effort. As managers, we have to know that just assigning a group of people a common project and calling them a ‘team’ in no way ensures that they will function as one. Teaming well requires soft skills like communication, problem solving and leadership as well as emotional intelligence. Those aren’t always skills we’re born with but they can definitely be learned.
The learning process is easy. It’s being fully committed to the process and ultimate outcomes that is most important. We’ve narrowed it down to 5 steps for a cohesive, collaborative team. Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to creating team dynamics that work, allowing more success in individual teams that ladder up to the overall organizational wins!
#1 Get To Know Your Teammates
This sounds so simple, almost yawn-inducing simple. But honestly, what are you doing to actually get to know the people you’re working with?
We’ve all got a lot on our plates but maybe all that’s needed for starters is taking the time to do a bit more than just saying hello. Ask how they’re doing and actually wait to hear their response. Pay attention to whether they’ve got photos of kids on their desk and ask their names, or what they’re into. Maybe instead, they’ve got photos of a four legged friend. Chat them up about it. Animals are a great way to connect because people LOVE talking about their pets!
Do some covert question-asking to see what their favorite coffee drink is and then surprise them with one. Finding out if someone on your team is a coffee catch up or happy hour kind of person can be super helpful and make for great opportunities to get to know them better outside the office. Sometimes, even if you’re not in the mood for a chat, asking a simple question and just listening is all someone else needs to feel that sense of belonging. It really does go a long way.
#2 Build Trust Through Your Actions
When people hear phrases like “trust building” in the context of work, visions of ‘trust falls’ pop into their heads and that doesn’t always leave a great impression. They think: No way! That is such a waste of time and I’ve got too much on my plate!” Well, we’re right there with you on the trust fall, but we know that building a foundation of trust is the #1 most important thing companies can do.
Historically, it’s been really challenging to quantify the benefits of having better trust in the workplace. We all know we need to trust our colleagues and company leaders, but it’s been hard to quantify and connect the dots between what that does to things like earnings, profit and financial KPIs. But, we have to remember: the question isn’t if a company will deal with a trust issue, it’s when. So, thankfully, Accenture completed a study a few years back and the findings were incredible. The research determined a connection between things like trust and EBITDA. And guess what they found??
WHEN TRUST DROPS BY 2 PTS, EBITDA IS COMPROMISED AND DECREASES BY 9.8%
What does this mean for your company? It means your revenue is at risk if you don’t have a solid foundation of trust throughout your organization. The impact of trust on a company’s bottom line is a big deal and one every company should be thinking about.
As we’ve said before, vulnerability based trust is the key. Be authentic. Understand who you are in the mix so you can better understand who others are. It’s a simple process, you just have to be dedicated to the outcome. And, understanding how a lack of trust affects the company’s bottom line may give some incentive.
#3 Be Accountable
When there is clear communication, accountability comes more easily. And, I’m not talking about top to bottom accountability. I’m talking about peer to peer. If you’ve got a clear line of communication, and everyone is on the same page about expectations, then you have a road map for how to show up, the work that you do, and the outcomes the team is seeking. Which means, being accountable is three fold:
- we need to be accountable to ourselves
- we need to be accountable to the commitments we make to others
- we need to hold others accountable as well
When we talk about holding ourselves accountable, that can start with something as simple as: do what you say you’re going to do, whether it’s showing up on time or turning something in when you say you will. Those types of actions go a long way in communicating how you really feel about the team and your responsibility to it. It also gives your teammates an idea of what you think about them. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but the person who is constantly late is basically saying they don’t respect the other person’s time. Being confronted in the moment with “I don’t feel like you respect my time when you show up late to meetings” may feel super aggressive. And, your first thought may take you back to 3rd grade when you told someone “you’re not the boss of me!” However, I’d venture to guess that a little self reflection would tell you: they’re right! Whatever the reason for being late, it was obviously more important than showing up on time.
On the flip side, if holding a teammate accountable falls on you, my guess is that you’re likely thinking “Why do I have to be the one to show them where they’re going wrong…? This is NOT my responsibility!” Well, if this is you, you may need a reframe. Part of having healthy team dynamics is being able to hold each other up, which involves a willingness to out the situation when a teammate isn’t holding up their end of the bargain. If they’ve committed to some action or some type of behavior, but they aren’t following through, that’s an open invitation for a heart to heart. As hard as it is to be the one to instigate it, and possibly harder to be the one who receives the feedback – this is exactly what organizations need in order to create truly cohesive, collaborative teams.
#4 Focus On Team Results, Not Personal Results
We’ve all got our daily tasks and weekly goals that we have to keep front and center for the overall success of the organization, but it’s a real problem when you’ve got a lone wolf in the mix who is only out for #1! If you’re in this situation, take the time to discuss what “team commitment” actually looks like. Ultimately, it comes down to decisions and actions that serve the greater good of the organization.
If you are the lone wolf constantly shutting others out, not allowing collaboration or input of any kind to muddy the waters of your solitary strategy you are creating derision and division in the team. This will never be in the playbook for creating cohesive, collaborative teams. Instead, remember that old adage: There is no ‘i’ in team. It still holds true. Allowing others to be part of your process improves the final outcome on so many levels. The workload is spread out, amazing ideas are generated by bringing other voices into the mix and the end result is so much more fulfilling.
#5 Show Appreciation
When we let others know how much we value their help it really goes a long way. More than 35% of employees consider lack of recognition of their work as the biggest hindrance to their productivity according to a recent poll by Tjinsite, a division of TimeJobs.com. So you can see, everyone needs to feel appreciated, but we are each moved differently when it comes to how it’s shown. Picture this scene: One of your teammates has been responsible for pulling together a really important client event for the company. Time and again this person comes through, working overtime, putting their heart and soul into the outcome, but when you pull them into a large group gathering to present them with a thank you card and a round of applause, they look like they might throw up. And, you’re left wondering what went wrong…
We are all wired differently. For some of us, we want a standing ovation every time we have a win (big or small). And, then others of us are mortified at the thought of being publicly recognized. Some may just want a pat on the back and a thumbs up, and it’ll carry them through until the next win which takes us back to #1! If we get to know our people, we know what they want and what they need. A little creative investigation goes a long way and then allows you to show how much they mean to the overall team dynamics in the way they need.
We know it takes time and dedication to build cohesive, collaborative teams. As managers, we have to ensure that every person on the team is dedicated to the process of taking their communication, problem solving and leadership skills to the next level, while also throwing a little EQ into the mix. When you take these five steps and consistently implement them into your team processes the results are amazing. You can’t help but have cohesive, collaborative teams as a result.
If you need help creating cohesion on your teams, call us. We’ve got a brilliant plan for guiding teams through the right steps to keep them on their path to success!
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