There’s nothing like being in a great team. It is one of life’s greatest highs and one of the real pleasures of going to work. Unfortunately, though, for many, it is a dream to be longed for rather than a daily reality. In teams that don’t click, the experience is frustrating, painful, and stressful. And for the organization that allows such teams to exist, an unproductive waste of talent.
But all that can change.
With 7 simple acts of teamwork, teams can change from being the source of our greatest anguish into being the source of our greatest joy. Here’s how.
1. Sharing. If you want to measure the strength of your team, do a sharing audit. Simply record the number of acts of team sharing in any day. That’s sharing information, sharing ideas, sharing feelings, values and needs. Or simply just sharing being together. Your score will tell you just how together your group is. The most important feature of team sharing is goal sharing. If your people don’t even share the team goal, chances are you have a bunch of individuals who happen to work near each other, not a team.
2. Asking for Help. Strong teams are strong because the individuals in it have different but complementary qualities. Sue’s a great detail person. John sees the big picture. Ron gets on with everyone. Jill is a loner. And so on. That means that when anyone has to do something they’re not particularly gifted at, they can turn to someone else in the team for help. In strong teams, you frequently hear people asking for help. In poor teams, it is considered a sign of weakness.
3. The 3 A’s. Another audit you can do to find out if you have a team or just a bunch of individuals is the 3 A’s Audit. The 3 A’s stand for Appreciating, Accepting, and Acknowledging. They are the features of great teams and stand in contrast to the 3 C’s of poor teams: Criticising, Complaining, and Condemning.
Accepting means letting people know they’re valued members of the team. Acknowledging means letting them know they belong. And appreciating means letting them know the team just wouldn’t be the same without them.
4. Valuing Others. We all need to feel important. When we are valued, we take pride in who we are and what we do.
Warren Bennis, professor of business administration at the University of Southern California, describes his campus as “a dry, crack-infested part of LA”. But, he says, every morning is a delight because the grounds of the campus are so fresh and well-kept. He adds: “It makes a big difference to me. But I wonder if anyone has reminded the gardeners of the importance of their work.”
Have you told someone in your team lately how much you value them?
5. Giving Feedback. Strong teams are defined by the amount of interaction there is between team members. When interaction is low, so is team morale. One essential type of interaction in strong teams is feedback. It can take 3 forms:
• positive feedback given by anyone in the team to someone else when they do something that benefits the whole team
• constructive feedback given by anyone in the team to help someone else in the team perform better
• requested feedback from anyone in the team when they want someone to help them with their performance.
When there is a constant exchange of these kinds of feedback, given skillfully without criticism and rancour, the team cannot help but grow and develop.
6. Building On Others. When management consultant Peter Honey explored the differences between teams and groups, he found that one of the key differences was that teams pick up on each others’ ideas and build, whereas groups don’t. This feature is also known as convergent listening. Team members are intently interested in what others have to say. Rather than let it go by without comment, they take something from it and develop it into something worthwhile.
7. A Friendly Climate. A friendly climate is the result of team morale. Morale is a state of mind that radiates confidence in people. It happens by itself when everyone feels sure of their place in the team. Nobody is anxious to prove themselves to anyone else. Nobody shows off. Nobody seeks to be better than anyone else.
When this happens, individual egos disappear, and team spirit emerges.
This isn’t Utopia. It’s reality in workplaces throughout the world. But it does have to be worked for and it does require commitment from everyone in the team. Whether you’re a team member or team leader, the results are worth that commitment.
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