In our last blog, we discussed how leadership is not a solo effort. We talked about how it is important to build a collaborative environment and gain organizational commitment. So, if leadership is not a solo sport, then it must be a team sport. Working as a team is hard and the dynamics are ever changing. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, if your team isn’t connected it will not be performing as well as they could. Nor will people be fulfilled in their work. Here is what you can do to help increase the team’s trust and connection:
Help Them Understand and Appreciate Each Other
Bring your team together as a group and discuss how you, as individuals, want to be communicated with. Learning to understand what others appreciate about you provides imperative insight. This can be done on an ongoing, consistent basis or completed a meeting/retreat and reinforced throughout the year. Oftentimes, team members don’t realize the contributions that the make to the team. Therefore, it is imperative to help these members see their value to reinforce the appreciation from others within the organization.
Find Out What People Need
Have your team develop ways to acknowledge accomplishments. Appreciation styles vary and leave us guessing how someone wants to be recognized for their work, energy, and contributions. Simply ask and then reinforce by following through with what they asked for.
Talk About the Elephant in the Room
This can be done in a way that is appropriate and professional (even though it is scary). You want to encourage team members to say what is true for them and what they need instead. For example: “When you send me an email that says, ‘People, we need to get it together’ my team shuts down. I realize your frustration, but could we address the situation in person or word it in a way that doesn’t put up defenses?”. You are not putting someone down, rather just saying what is true for you and offering another way for the person to get their needs met. Respectful candor is mature and appreciated.
Create the Vision
Have something the team can collectively work towards. For example, when you get together, make sure you are working on something that they can readily link to the overall vision. The key here is to consistently remind the team of the bigger picture so they can stay connected to it. Connected employees develop a deeper sense of team and how their contributions align with your vision.
Define and Practice Behavior
Define how you will treat each other in a variety of situations, including when times are stressful. Practice these behaviors and debrief with the group. Catch each other doing things well.