Anyone who’s ever tried to grow a business will tell you, people management can be tough! You take the time to recruit a team that you think will work well together and then you spend ages training and mentoring them. It’s coming together so well you’re wondering why people make such a big deal out of good teams being ‘make or break’ for a business. Just as you verge on feeling smug, there’s a sudden outbreak of squabbling and bickering and half of your team races for the door. And here you are back to square one.
Sound familiar? Maybe we can help. Check out these 10 useful teamwork skills (and one of them isn’t coffee), and you’ll be one step closer to creating a happy, well-oiled, and functioning group of employees.
1. Understand how to put a team together
A team is simply a collection of individuals – it’s how you put these individuals together that matters. It’s not enough just to herd a group of people into a room and call them a team. First you need to be clear what your group’s objective is and what they need to deliver. This will highlight what skills are required and therefore what you should look for in each individual member. Not everyone will have all the qualities you need, so this is when you have to make certain you get the right ‘mix’.
2. Make certain all team members clearly understand their role in the team
This is vital – having a fuzzy goal for a team where no one understands how their part fits into the whole is a like a car crash waiting to happen. Then there’s the question of who is in charge. You may want to let the team decide (or let someone nominate themselves). Leadership is just another skill and some members may naturally have this ability and will be happiest being trail-blazers. Others may prefer to keep their heads down and get the job done.
3. Set clear guidelines
Once you have selected your team and everyone knows their role, make sure they understand what they are working towards and how they’ll be measured. What feedback can they expect and when? Nothing demotivates a team more than allowing them to fumble along without any direction and being constantly told that results aren’t meeting expectations. You’ll watch the team’s morale disintegrate in front of your eyes. Guidelines, measurements, and feedback are essential.
4. Give everyone a sense of purpose
A team that understands the importance of what they’re doing is unstoppable and will achieve to much higher standards than one with no clear purpose. Millennials really want to be a part of something that’s making a difference. A project that makes life a little better, more convenient, spreads knowledge, protects the environment, or just helps the world to be a slightly cooler place to live in, will get them inspired. If you’re polishing up your teamwork skills, look for the unique ‘purpose’ behind your business. Find the hot button that will get your people excited, and watch them light up with passion and commitment.
5. Empower your team
Once your team has a clear mandate, your job is to support them without getting in their way or smothering them. Make it clear where the barriers of decision making are. For example, is the team allowed to negotiate discounts, give money back, replace a product etc? The more you let them handle these decisions, the more they’ll feel in control. Any team member who has to keep saying, “I’ll find out and get back to you” is going to end up as frustrated as the client. Ownership is important to everyone in a business. Allowing people to make decisions is part of trusting that you put the right people in the right jobs.
6. Encourage friendships – it helps if the team likes each other
At Google the philosophy is: “To create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world.” Well, have you seen their offices? We’d say they’re doing a pretty good job. You’ll need awesome communication, workshops, boot camps (maybe not ones that involve push ups, thanks very much), and fun social events to build a powerfully cohesive team. Get creative and ask the team for their input too.
7. Train and develop your team
Of course, for empowerment to work, your team has to be extremely well trained. Take time to get your team up-to-speed on everything about your business, including your marketing plans and strategies. Teams love this – they feel included when they ‘get’ where you’re going. Cross-training is also a great idea – that way people learn new skills and can jump in for others when necessary. They’ll also increase their competence and gain more experience.
8. Conflict resolution
Like with any sort of human relationship, there are bound to be problems within the team occasionally. Early detection and elimination are the best approaches. Personal issues rarely go away – they may get buried and simmer for a while, but the next thing you know it’ll be pistols at dawn. Rather than having to step in every time as the arbitrator, how about introducing the team to the skills of conflict resolution? Teach the valuable art of consultation and minimise the chances of a full-blown soap opera unfolding.
9. Provide the necessary resources to do a great job
No matter how cash-strapped you are, you have to give your team what they need in order to deliver to their highest standards for your clients. If your business is using slow, outdated technology, your team members will struggle and won’t be able to produce work to their best ability. Listen to what your employees are complaining about and take action – if a system keeps crashing, the software isn’t helpful, there’s nowhere to go for a break or to eat lunch, and the bathroom is a tip, take action and fix things. Give your people decent tools and a decent working environment. How you treat them is how they’ll treat your clients.
10. Let them shine as a group and make your business fly!
Most people are happiest in their careers when they feel part of a business, are appreciated, and are working with dynamic people towards a shared mission. A well-functioning, highly motivated, purpose-driven team is a guarantee that your business can shoot for the stars.