Teamwork makes the dream work.
Not only is it important to assemble and collate the best possible team, it is also important to maintain the motivation levels of those team members so that they can continue to succeed.
To help you achieve long-term sustainable energy and Spirit levels in your team, we want to share with you Evolve’s 8 tips for a happier team.
Remember, a happy and focused team can become an exponential force for growth, profit and productivity within your organisation.
1. Firstly, talk to the team about what a team is
Most people do not really see themselves as teams, but simply as a group of individuals thrown together by management. Imagine you are speaking to an elite sports team.
How do their various abilities/synergies overlap? What is the benefit of them working together in this close-knit way? What are your strategies for overcoming the challenges ahead?
By talking to them in this way, you will raise their expectations of what is possible. Expectations are, in some ways, core Beliefs about the future that affect our motivation levels, and have a disproportionate influence on outcomes in reality.
2. Give the team an objective that is clear, bold and compelling
Tie the objective directly to you Ambitions. If it’s appropriate, you can write the objective on an A3 piece of paper with big bold letters and pin it to the wall in the office so the team can see it! It ensures everyone is on the same page and feels valued.
Moving towards a goal that will have ambitious impact on the organisation, and doing so with other like-minded friends, is a thrilling experience for most people and having a clear goal will help harness the ‘buzz’ of working in a team.
A clear goal is the foundation of a good team’s performance.
3. Having a ‘team’ and having a ‘hierarchy’ are mutually exclusive
Command and control models do not work in teams. In fact, they defeat the very purpose of having a team. Sun Tzu, author of The Art of War, once said:
“Be wary when nobody agrees with you, but be warier when everybody agrees with you.”Sun Tzu, The Art of War
If everyone agrees with you simply because of your ‘rank’, then there is no way to truly vet ideas and gain a diverse multi-faceted perspective on an issue.
You are missing out on potential insight that could come from any corner of the room. It should not be ‘rank’ that decides what we do and how we do it, but relevance and contribution to the overall Ambition.
4. Maximise each member’s contribution by playing to their strengths and motivators (Beliefs)
Each person in the team should ask: ‘How can I best contribute to the objective?’
In turn, you should be asking: ‘How can I contribute to the team?’
In ‘serving’ the team, providing them with resources, energy, time, knowledge and help, you enable them to fully reach their potential.
5. Avoid becoming a taskmaster
A too rigid pursuit of objectives can lead to the collapse and exhaustion of the team.
Consider, for a moment, if you were a director of a theatrical play. If you made your actors and actresses (and all the other important crew members) rehearse 24/7, would that yield the best performance on the night of the show? Probably not. Everyone would be burned out.
At Evolve, we recognise people are not machines and need downtime to restore their creative energies.
Pay attention not just to the objectives, but to the process. How are the team operating and how does each member work together? Provide opportunities within their schedule for reflection on their performance and methods so far.
6. Get rid of blame culture
Many organisations seem to harbour a culture of blame. People spend vast amounts of their day-to-day work ‘covering’ themselves by sending emails, obtaining confirmations and avoiding risk.
Whilst we all have to cover ourselves to a certain extent, and in a legal sense, we must avoid the additional petty blame shifting that hampers progress.
Instead, we should move to being responsible for our actions and encouraging experimentation and failure.
Only through failure can we learn and innovate. People cannot perform at their best if they fear failure or think it will be punished. Driving out fear is Point 8 of W.E. Deming’s famous Fourteen Point programme for the transformation of management; it was essential for him in terms of the whole organisational drive to achieve quality.
7. Ensure the team is accountable to the wider organisation
Whilst blame culture is unhelpful, we do need some form of accountability.
Though teams are important, and we have emphasised their importance frequently, there is a danger of the silo effect, where teams become miniature fiefdoms detached from the wider organisation.
How many companies can you think of that are practically held hostage by their IT department? ‘We control the computers so you are all useless without us’. This should never be the case, and needs to be prevented by putting in place proper accountability and controls (as well as rewards).
Feeling connected to the rest of the organisation will also benefit the team, as they become part of something bigger and connected to the whole.
8. This last tip is very important to us at Evolve – have fun!
We know this is not original, but sometimes we all need reminding of the simple truths.
The reality is that despite many CEOs seeming to fear this prospect, very few organisations indeed are losing productivity because the workplace is ‘just too fun’. For the most part, people are overworked, continuously monitored, censored by corporate-speak and jargon, and constantly against the clock.
There are, sadly, still organisations out there that time employee tea and bathroom breaks. This simply cannot be fun for even the most disciplined individual.
Why is this the case? At Evolve we have observed an intriguing psychological quirk; most people, in the UK especially, have a mental block about work being fun. Work and play are considered mutually exclusive.
Many articles and thought-pieces talk about ‘work/life’ balance. Work and life are considered separate! The reality is that most people spend more time at work than at home, so how can work not truly be a part of life? People disassociate from their work. Or, to use a more business-orientated term: they are disengaged.
Work should be fun. In fact, when work is fun, people do their best work. Regular breaks, laughter, exercise and relaxation all improve mental function dramatically. We encourage you to harness this in your organisation!
Whether you install a gaming console in your common room, give people free reign of the Internet, or institute a daily morning yoga routine, help your team have fun for better performance! You might even have a little fun yourself!