Have you ever had one of those colleagues who just drags everyone down?
You’d get up on a Monday morning like Snow White, with woodland creatures making your breakfast and chirpy birds helping you dress. You’d whistle your way into work, looking forward to the day ahead.
Then Debbie from payroll would enter the building, with her lack of motivation and bad attitude, and sucks all of the happiness out of the team.
Or what about the colleagues who refuse to pull their weight? You know, the ones who delegate absolutely everything and then jump in at the last moment to take all of the credit. You’ve met one or two of them too — we all have!
You almost don’t notice when a team is getting along well.
Morale is high, productivity is great and everyone more or less looks forward to coming to work. However, when a team isn’t working together, whether because of one or two awkward employees or because of something more complex, everyone feels it.
Morale is the first thing to suffer. It isn’t long before productivity falls, and team members start sending out CVs…
Clearly, this is a serious problem for any business, and if any of this is ringing bells for you, you know you need to do something — and fast. So how do you get everyone on your team pulling in the same direction?
We’ve put together a few tips to help you out.
Define and sell the vision
Do your employees understand what the business is trying to achieve…now, next year, over the next three years?
If not, they should. If they know what the business is trying to achieve, and how they can contribute towards that vision, then they’ll be more motivated to achieve the objectives you agree with them.
Work out in your own mind where you want the business to be in a year’s time, in two or three year’s time. What will the business look like? What will your revenues be? What products will you be selling? What markets will you be serving? How will you be different from the competition? How will you achieve these objectives? What will all this mean to your staff?
Now sell this vision to your staff so that they understand the part they play in achieving it. Better still, get them to think through the process. You never know, they might well have some great ideas you’ve not already thought of.
Highlight the importance of teamwork.
Do your employees value the importance of teamwork?
It’s a good idea to work on making teamwork an integral part of your company’s culture. Highlight its importance to any new staff you hire and ensure current staff members know that their ability to work as part of a team is a key part of in their job description.
Offer rewards and incentives to staff who are great team players. This will encourage reluctant team members to try a bit harder. Rewards don’t always have to be financial….For example, you could reward someone each month with a prize and certificate for being the best team player. It’s amazing what people will do for a bottle of wine or a gift voucher!
People like to know what is expected of them. If you want a team that works well together, it’s vital that everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing and when. If you don’t get this nailed down right at the start, it just causes confusion and conflict.
Take the time to assess the skills and personalities of everyone in your team. Who’s the ideas person? Who will be great at implementing strategy? Who has the necessary temperament to lead the team to success? Figure out what you need the team to accomplish and who will excel at what task. Make sure every member of the group is happy with their role and knows what they should be doing.
Nothing can hinder a team more than an unhappy and unmotivated staff member. An employee who feels valued and appreciated is always going to be a happier team member than one who feels that their skills are being wasted.
Invest in your staff. Do you have any staff members who are keen to advance but lack the experience or skills? If so, you could consider offering them additional training or try giving them more responsibility and opportunities to show their creativity. You’ll find you now have a worker who is far more enthusiastic come Monday morning and the whole office will enjoy the boost in motivation.
Dealing with change.
Times of change are one of the danger periods for conflict arising in a team. If people are unsure of what the future holds, they lose confidence in the company and lose motivation for their work.
If your business is going through real upheaval, it might be impossible to avoid trouble in your team. The best way to minimise the risk, though, is to have open lines of communication. Keep your employees in the loop, if you can, and let them know that you will do whatever you can to ensure the transition period is as smooth as possible.
Ok, some of you will have started to cringe at the very thought of this, but bear with us. Team building is important — giving staff the chance to bond and get to know each other on neutral territory can go a long way to defusing any tension that may be growing in the group.
Team building doesn’t have to mean blasting each other with paintballs or falling backwards and praying your colleagues are strong enough to catch you (unless you particularly enjoy these activities…but we have yet to find someone who truly does). A simple team lunch or after work drinks on a Friday can really help your employees find common ground.
Tackle the problem head on.
If, despite your best efforts, conflicts do arise in your team, the worst thing you can do is sweep it under the carpet. As soon as you notice a problem, deal with it now, before resentment can build and tensions reach a level from which there is no going back!
Identify the problem ASAP. Whether the team is suffering from one or two unhappy staff members or there is a period of change on the horizon that has your employees feeling nervous, try some of the tips we’ve given you here to cauterise the wound before it has the chance to fester.
Nothing can ruin the office atmosphere — or your company’s bottom line — quicker than a team that just can’t work together. Now, we can’t promise you woodland creatures cleaning up your boardroom post-meeting but, if you implement a few of these tips, you should find that team meetings are a little more Disney and a little less drama.
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