Throughout our lives, we’ll be a part of many different teams. Perhaps most obvious, we have our teams at work, but we also have friendships, relationships, softball teams, trivia crew – you name it! Simply put, a team is any group of people (two or more) with different skills, opinions, and personalities, all working together toward a common goal.
Every team you’re involved with, be it personal or professional, should put some type of plan or strategy in place to “make the dream work.” As a leader, the way you build and manage teams (i.e., who has what role, how they communicate) can harbor trust and collaboration, or, if you’re not careful, lead to conflict.
The good news is that our brains are hard-wired to form the kind of connections that make teamwork possible. But to tap into that innate ability to bond, you might consider supplementing your management strategy with the following techniques
One of the most important things you can do for your team is to focus on alignment. Each member needs a clear understanding of their role and purpose, as well as how their personal goals line-up with the company’s goals. This stems from the ability to communicate and express yourself clearly and honestly.
Because communication is a two-way street, you should also promote active listening within your teams. This kind of behavior shows that everyone’s opinions are valued and heard. Active listening is about engaging with the speaker, paying attention to both verbal and nonverbal cues, and asking questions for clarification. In the words of the Zeno of Citium, founder of the school of stoicism, “We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.”
I’ve mentioned the importance of good leadership already, but it’s perhaps the most pivotal part of team management. Good leaders build better teams! Our brains may actually perceive poor leadership as a kind of threat, which leads to team members “checking out.” They may be less present, less invested, and could perform at a lower level.
I’ve seen teams who felt their leader had their back. In turn, they worked harder and with a better sense of comradery. On the other hand, I’ve seen leaders who were only in it for themselves, and their team never fully engaged or went that extra mile. Why? A lack of trust. Additionally, they weren’t aligned with any long-term goals bigger than their own personal interest.
I used to be the President of my college student association. It may have been a long time ago, but it gave me a great lesson in leadership – one I’ll never forget. In my situation, transparency earned me credibility. Owning up to mistakes set a realistic and healthy precedent that it is OK to make mistakes and that you need to honestly address any mishaps to move forward. This situation won me the trust of my peers and fellow students. In a way, it united our team.
Talan Miller, the owner of Sabre Corporate Development, says “Leaders that engender genuine feelings of safety, fairness, authenticity, and openness actually help to trigger a chemical in the brain known as “oxytocin”. This chemical (amongst other benefits) makes people more receptive to feeling genuine trust towards a leader.”
The Benefits of Teamwork Done Well
When you implement these techniques, you’ll be better equipped to build and manage your very own dream team. Doing so causes a ripple effect of positive results for yourself, the team, and the business.
High-functioning teams perpetuate a sense of trust, not just amongst the team, but between other employees, new hires, and even clients. Your business may function without a trusting environment, but you’ll never reach your full potential if there’s turmoil or insecurity beneath the surface.
Great teams also allow individual members to play to their talents. It’s natural for people in a safe, open, and aligned environment to gravitate toward what they’re good at. Ultimately, the freedom to grow promotes workplace happiness and the company’s bottom line.
Once your team feels comfortable to develop their unique talent and use their voice, you’ll gain a series of fresh perspectives, which is probably the most effective way to problem solve and deliver results. The last thing you want is a room full of disconnected, unfulfilled people having the same exact thoughts and ideas. Your team should be aligned, not identical.
It’s true that building and managing effective teams is an investment, but it’s well worth the effort. Often times, a third-party perspective is exactly what you need. Contact Meddlers to learn more about how we can help you align and engage your teams!