Each individual involved in a team has a different way of doing one thing, which can create teamwork issues for a number of different aspects. Most people don’t appreciate that employee cooperation involves more than just working together to ‘get the job done’, but more importantly should focus on achieving results through each employee’s contributions. A team that comes together to work efficiently can make a huge difference to a company’s success.
So how does a manager establish and sustain team harmony in the workplace, especially if team dynamics are constantly changing? As team life continues to minimize due to industry and market changes, how can leaders ensure team solidity, as well as adapt to the varying personality dynamics that inevitably occur when old team members leave and new ones join?
Understand Team Dynamics and Individual Motivations
More often than not, a leader tries to alter how the team functions; however for everyone else on the team, such efforts can often come across as a power trip or a decision of who’s in charge and in control. In this case, there’s little concern in trying to recognise why things are being approached in the manner they are, as the focus is more on having one’s way.
As a manager and team leader, the emphasis should be on listening and observing what team members have to say and to recognise what they hope to accomplish from the task. It’s important to learn what makes them feel like they are contributing, and how to make them focused on the company’s needs instead of concentrating on their own goals.
Regardless of titles, roles, or expertise each member brings to the team, the fact is that every individual is a member of the same team, and those in charge need to ensure they are not using their authority to try and control the process. Rather, the goal should be to empower everyone to be full contributors and participants.
Demonstrate Trust and Respect through Words and Actions
One common false perception of leadership is the belief that the leader has to be the smartest person on the team. Generally this is why employees struggle with change, as those in control tend to devote little time on understanding potential apprehensions of other team members, choosing instead to use their authority to drive decisions from the top down.
Whilst it’s true that people in leadership positions carry the responsibility for outcomes of the team’s decisions, leaders still need to bring members into the discussion and consider what each person on the team can contribute to the task at hand - how their insights, experience and knowledge can form and support decisions made by the team as a whole. It’s a detail that leaders need to communicate by treating each member with the same level of trust and respect, irrespective of what individual roles might be outside the team.
To be a Good Leader one must be a Good Follower
A significant factor in successfully managing an ever-changing team dynamic is accepting the fact that managers need to be good followers in order to be effective leaders.
Providing team members with the opportunity to lead acts as a reminder both to leaders and their employees that it’s not about who is in charge, or who has served on the team the longest, rather, it’s about what they all want to collectively accomplish as a team and community.
Show Pride in a Sense of Belonging
A sense of belonging is shown through how an organisation works together and the importance it places on working as a team, the importance of sticking to commitments and supporting other team members. Many companies promote the sense of belonging through their values and policies. Whichever policies the business decide on, they must represent the culture of the individual company and so, what works for one company does not necessarily work for another.
Promote the Company’s Attitude to Risk Taking
For an organization to succeed, it needs to know where it stands in terms of innovation and risk. Is it conventional, or does it like to be at the forefront of modernisation? Whilst a company may say they encourage risk-taking and innovation, the real test comes when something goes wrong – does the management team stay supportive?
Encourage Open Communication
One of the most effective ways to adopt good relations within the workplace is to encourage discussion and effective communication, both amongst colleagues and also between staff and management. Inspiring the workforce to voice ideas and views as well as suggesting improvements is a great way of achieving this. Giving employees clearly defined objectives and getting feedback on performance, either as a team or in one to one sessions is vital. It’s also important to review results whether the team has or has not done well together, to ensure everyone can improve on previous tasks.
Establish a Good Work/Life Balance
Employees often become unmotivated if employers are only interested in making as much profit as possible without giving any regard to the needs of their staff. Whilst it is perfectly acceptable to expect employees to give 100% when they’re on company time, it is also important to identify that they have a life outside the workplace too, and so creating a ‘family friendly’ environment is a positive approach.
Introducing schemes such as flexible working practices, compassionate leave or childcare facilities such as crèches etc. will make for good relations between staff and management and will show that the company has their employees’ best interests at heart.
Ensure Constant Training and Development
No matter how much someone enjoys their current role, the majority of employees will ultimately aspire to move up the career ladder. To keep valued members of staff on board, it is imperative that a company provides them with the right platform to develop. Options include training in house or offering employees the opportunity to take leave from work to study. Paying for external education, if a career progression involves further study or training, is also beneficial to retaining top employees.
Share Vision and Values
Employees need to be given a sense of purpose as to why they come to work and contribute to the company each day. Goals constantly motivate, however a shared goal needs to be matched with clear roles, by positioning the right employees at the right time and at the right place. When each team member has clear roles and responsibilities, and is aware of other team member tasks, the risk of overlap or gap of work can be reduced significantly. Goals will also create challenge, and a team that has dealt with a trying situation and come out successful together will typically have a stronger relationship.
The contents of this article are necessarily expressed in broad terms and limited to general information rather than detailed analyses or legal advice. Specialist professional advice should always be obtained to address legal and other issues arising in specific contexts.