In sports, business, companies and organizations, we can all think of examples of teams that possessed incredible individual talent, yet performed ineffectually as a unit. In my experience, this happens when teams do not take the necessary time to learn and grow together. Simply forming a team does not guarantee maximum results. We need to create opportunities for all team members to learn and grow together to maximize synergies. These five tips have helped me grow teams, and hopefully will guide other managers and leaders to do the same.
- Understand each other’s strengths. As you grow your team, it is critical to assess each individual’s strength and talent. What does he or she bring to the table? Have an open dialogue with each member to understand individual strengths and weaknesses. I love using the CliftonStrengths tool for support. Team discussions foster empathy and understanding, which lead to open doors of trust. After the meeting, leaders can move forward to tackle the bigger question, “How can we use our combined skills to achieve our objectives?”
- Clearly define goals and objectives. Every manager or leader must clearly outline team goals and establish priorities. All members must understand they are working collaboratively to support and achieve the overall objective. Develop a rhythm of communication in team meetings by addressing these objectives and identifying any obstacles that may impede the desired outcome. The key component is to ensure you have sound, objective-focused KPIs, because as the saying goes, “You treasure what you measure.”
- Dedicate learning time. Every staff meeting, I dedicate one hour of group learning. I create a forum for my team members to share an interesting video, book review or idea that fuels creativity and offers new perspectives. In addition, I like to invite guest speakers to share their insights, tips and motivational thoughts that will aid our team’s development and growth.
- Allocate problem-solving time. We also set aside an hour for team members to present any obstacles or problems they face on a project. As a group, we discuss the problems and brainstorm potential solutions. It is amazing what we learn about each other and ourselves! In addition, the process becomes a great tool for sharing ideas and uncovering solutions together.
- Foster open dialogue and debate. I continuously encourage the entire team to speak openly about any topic or matter. If we are going to be successful, we need to leave our titles at the door and freely discuss anything and everything – without recourse. No topic is off the table.
Team discussions foster empathy and understanding, which lead to open doors of trust. After the meeting, leaders can move forward to tackle the bigger question, “How can we use our combined skills to achieve our objectives?”
Lastly, we can’t forget the importance of having fun! It’s essential that the team spends time together in a non-work atmosphere to get to know each other, unwind – and of course laugh! I try to ensure that we schedule teambuilding events up to four times a year. These off-site activities help build trust, improve communication and strengthen collaboration among team members.
Growing a superior team is a journey that requires continuous investment, commitment and dedication – and the outcome is well worth it. Pardon the cliché, yet it’s true: Together Everyone Achieves More!
What is the most effective team-building activities you have tried?