Successful team building doesn’t come easy, but the rewards are worth the effort. Teams that work well together are more productive and create a pleasant, supportive work environment.
Team leaders set the tone for how a group is expected to work together. Having strong communication skills is critical for team leaders and can make the difference between a healthy, strong, productive team and an unhappy, disorganized, stressed one.
If you’re a team leader, here are some tips to help you build and maintain a great team.
Team Building Strategies
Tell them the details. Leaders can help build and unify a team by facilitating conversations about projects, challenges, and concerns. Using a supportive, positive tone, leaders help the group understand the details to make sure that everyone is on the same page and moving toward the same objectives. When talking with team members, make sure they know about:
- Specific goals
Keep communication open. Encourage the team to talk to each other about the work. Updates on progress, changes, and challenges should be shared with relevant team members regularly. Setting up email lists that team members can use to keep everyone in the loop is one helpful tool to keep the lines of communication open.
Encourage feedback. Make sure your team knows that you genuinely want to know how things are going – either positively or negatively. If there’s a conflict brewing between team members, or they’re facing some other challenge in meeting the group’s goals, people should bring it to your attention so you can help them address and resolve the situation quickly.
Use consensus. While it can take more time initially to arrive at decisions through group consensus, ultimately, better decisions are made and productivity is increased. Using consensus makes sure that every team member is committed to the work and feels ownership of the outcomes.
Consensus can be reached by facilitating open dialogue about pros and cons or by having smaller groups research different options and then present them to the larger team. You can help the group reach consensus by encouraging discussion, debate, and brainstorming. Establishing a set timeframe for reaching a decision prevents the discussion from dragging on endlessly or delaying reaching a decision.
Strengthen active listening skills. Model active listening skills for your team, and set the tone for the group by setting expectations that they will all listen respectfully to their colleagues. Address immediately any situations where people are obviously not listening or are disrespectful to a colleague.
Avoid group think. Play devil’s advocate if the group reaches decisions with little discussion. Encourage quieter team members to speak up, and question the process behind the decision. The decision may ultimately be the same, but you want to make sure that all of the concerns, issues, and ideas were put on the table to help the group make the best choice possible.
Use good conflict resolution skills. Set ground rules for how conflicts of opinion will be handled. Ideally, the group should generate these ground rules collaboratively, so that the team members are more likely to own and follow them. These ground rules can (and likely should) include the idea that things should never get personal, whoever is speaking gets the group’s full attention, and it’s OK to call a time out so everyone can clear their heads and calm down.
By using these strategies, you can help build and maintain a happy, productive team while also growing your reputation as a strong leader.
What team building techniques have you used? Share them here!