Directors and managers often want their teams to work together in a more collaborative and productive way. But more often than not, they themselves are not setting the example of how they would want their team to work together.
When you look at how they interact within their management teams, they do not communicate in a helpful way or they work in silos.
What they sometimes fail to realize is that it takes time and effort to create the team that you want to see in the world. In other words, you have to invest in your team to make it great!
In this article, we will go into more detail to look at some of the ways that you can create a stronger and more collaborative team.
To be clear, we are not talking about financial investment into your teams. While monetary investments in activities like trainings and team building are great, here we will focus on the personal and human investment that you need to put in.
The first thing that you can do to strengthen your team's bond is to define who or what you want to be as a team. What are your values as a team? How do you want to be perceived? What do you want to achieve together?
Take some time to discuss these questions as a group. Building a consensus around these topics helps to create excitement by having a shared mission that everyone can get behind.
It is important to create a safe space for people to express their opinions. Learning to play and getting to know each other is the only way you will learn how to interact together.
As a leader, another thing that you will need to do is allowing things to be uncomfortable. As you are learning to work together in a different way and to elevate your conversations, things may get a bit awkward.
You may not be used to some ways of being as a team. For example, does your team depend on you or other leaders for every single decision? Then they may not feel ready to challenge you openly.
Initially, perhaps it will not be easy for you to hear. You need to leave yourself some space as a team to learn to speak to each other in a safe way.
Do you expect perfection from your team? How do you react when their work does not reach your standards? Do you constantly go over their work and redo it to your liking, leaving them feeling that they are not doing it right?
As a leader, the way you react to mistakes or failures is important. It has an impact on how comfortable or uncomfortable your team will be to take initiative. If you expect perfection, they may be afraid of trying new things and innovating.
All this takes a willingness to do it, or else you will not succeed. To evolve, you need to invest in giving your team the leeway to learn from their mistakes and from each other.
Having strong lines of communication in your workplace is another form of interpersonal investment that can create a strong team. Do you talk openly together about how you can improve as a team?
Talking is one thing, but listening to people is also crucial, if not more. Does your team feel comfortable coming to you when they see something that could be done differently? Listening to people does not mean you agree with everything they say. It means that you try to understand their worldview.
Another perspective on this is learning how to give feedback in a helpful way. People often see feedback as pointing out the negative things, or using the famous sandwich technique. But it should also be about highlighting the things you want to do more of.
How could you frame your feedback in a positive way instead of pointing fingers? The key here is accountability. As a leader, are you talking to your team in a way that actually helps them get better?
One of the things we often hear is this familiar challenge: You just do not have the time! All this extra effort is slowing you down and gets in the way of the work you should be doing.
While it may be faster to continue doing this the old way, the reality is that you will never have a strong team without putting in the work. Everything will stay the same if you do not put in the time and investment.
One way to start is to practice the points above within your management team. Start to communicate together in a different way and see how it goes.
This is one way to be the team you want to see in the world. Then, make parallels with your own team to see if you can leverage those experiences.
Great teams do not just pop up overnight. They are a consequence of deliberate energy and ongoing effort. As a leader, you can invest in your team by creating an environment where they are rallied behind a shared purpose.
This also means that you may be called to evolve in your leadership. Allowing people to challenge you, creating a learning culture and encouraging open communication are key.
Finally, you will need to commit to practicing this to make it happen. At the end of the day, it is about taking the time to invest in your team and in becoming a better leader as well!
What could you do to invest in your teams? How could that change your ways of working together?