All companies are built on teams and teamwork. In my consulting endeavors, I always find some teams that aren't working well together or that end up getting separated. As a result, some people get laid off or the team doesn't end up reaching their goals. While all team members might have their own professional objectives, it's critical that they are all following the vision of their leader. If you're leading a team, or want to, here are ten tips that will help you make better decisions about how you hire, manage and succeed:
1. Model your team after a successful team. If you see a team at your company that is working well together and achieving great results, ask that leader what they did to create that environment. Modeling them might or might not work for your team but it's worth at least borrowing some of their behaviors if they are working well. You can sit in on their team meetings in order to get a better sense of how they operate and then take those ideas back to your team to experiment with.
2. Reward your team. While, some of your employees might contribute more than others, everyone should share in each other's success. This way, they all feel like they are part of the team and are "in this together." It's also important to reward individuals on the team so that others can aspire to be like them and work just as hard. Acknowledge individual and group achievement through rewards, recognition and parties or outings. This will bring your team closer together, while at the same time remain competitive enough to put the right amount of work in.
3. Promote risk taking. One of the big concerns many companies have right now is to remain competitive in their marketplace. Innovation is the key ingredient to competitive advantage. By allowing your team to take risks and not punishing them if those risks turns into failures, you're creating a culture where big things can happen.
4. Have common goals that everyone agrees on. There's something to be said about getting a group of people all on the same page and working together to accomplish objectives. When your team is scattered and off doing their own projects, nothing really gets done. As a leader, you want to communicate what the teams short term and long term goals are so they can see how what they do fits into the greater whole and how each day can help you accomplish the end goal.
5. Learn your teams strengths, as well as their weaknesses. When you assign tasks to each individual teammate, you want to make sure you're playing to each of their individual strengths. This way, they can be more productive, find meaning in their work and better help the whole team succeed. One way to do this is to meet with each member individually to discuss what their strengths and weaknesses are so you can properly match them against the rest of the teams and then assign tasks.
6. Help manage the teams workload. You don't want to be in a position where one person is doing much more work than the rest because they will be strained and the rest of the team will feel underserved. You also don't want anyone to get burned out and have health issues because they might arise if someone is overworked. By giving your team a focus, and spacing out projects, it will give them more time to provide higher quality results and they will be less stressed.
7. Embrace collaboration. Instead of isolating members of your team, give them the tools and technologies required to get them to work together. This is especially important as more and more workers are working remotely and can feel detached. Use project management software to keep everyone on the same page, updating them on the progress of each project being worked on. By publicizing the teams progress, it allows them to see where they can add the most value and gets you to where you want to be faster.
8. Set expectations. Make sure that everyone knows what's expected of them even before you hire them. The worst thing that can happen is if the team member doesn't know protocol and what they are supposed to be doing on a daily basis. When workers get lost, they end up being unproductive, not focused and simply can't benefit the team.
9. Recruit the right people and fire when necessary. The most important part about forming a high performing team is selecting the right people for the team. Most companies have extended their interview process in order to be more confident in their selection. If you hire the wrong teammate, they can really sabotage your projects and hurt the culture you're trying to create. When you hire, don't just hire based on hard skills. Make sure that they fit into the culture and get along with the rest of the team. One trend that I'm starting to see is that leaders are bringing job applicants out to restaurants and bars, taking them out of the processional setting, to see if there's chemistry. Spending time and money on finding the people who are passionate, have strong soft skills and a positive attitude will save you at least twice as much in the future.
10. Get social. Take your team outside of the work setting at least monthly in order to ensure that everyone bonds on a personal level. When people make friends with their co-workers, they end up staying with their employer longer and work harder. They want to be there because work is more than work, it becomes a major part of their life too. This can be as simple as setting a lunch date for the team or bringing the team on a trip.