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OTHER ITA SITES:
Simple Steps To Build A Better Team - Part 2 (of 3)
In part 1 you saw the root causes of disharmony in teams. In this part, you will find some simple in-house steps that you can use to build the coherence of your team, increasing motivation and productivity, whilst making your job easier! Value the staff in your department or management group. Treat them with respect and communicate with them.
Value through action
Valuing your staff through action is much more effective than just telling them. One Boss I knew used to gather staff together at key times during the year, which was about the only time he saw most people. He gave a little pep-talk about how hard things would be and how we needed to pull together and generally finished telling staff how 'sincerely I value your contribution'. If you have to tell people much you value their contribution, then they tend to believe that you don't. If they can SEE that you value their contribution, they know. That�s Human nature. Do make sure that you let them know that specific jobs have been done well ... "I liked the way you handled such and such a customer" is a good way in.
A manager who stays in their office or never comes out from behind their screen will never have a strong team. But don't act like the old style managers who walked the offices, hands behind backs, to check everyone was working. Have a laugh with people, talk about their interests. Get your own coffee. If your organisation has a specific tea break - take it yourself and relax with staff. A strong manager will be able to 'connect' with each and every one of the PEOPLE in their team. Oh yes, talk a little about work as well but try not to make the small talk a lead-in for the work talk. Keep them separate unless it comes round naturally.
Meetings are a great place to build teams in-house. When decisions and policies need to be made, ensure you get everyone's opinion and ideas on the topic. Or at least give everyone the opportunity to contribute, make sure that the quieter team members are not overshadowed by the others. If someone is not contributing, ask them directly. Then put in your opinion and views and come to a consensus decision. That is one of the ways you can show that you value staff. This can be a double edged sword. You as the manager will always have the final responsibility on a decision, however, if you always over-ride staff suggestions, then you will create an atmosphere of false consultation where staff see that their contributions are added but never seriously considered. If you want to steer staff in a particular direction, use tact. If someone puts in a suggestion, instead of just telling them the problems that course of action would create, ask them what would happen if .... Give them a scenario so that they can work it out for themselves. Use the opinions and suggestions of your team to consider and refine your ideas in the decision making process - be open; you never know when a really useful suggestion will crop up. This will also help to keep staff from switching off in meetings and therefore make your job of meeting management much simpler.
Get your team down to the pub on a Friday Lunchtime. Find out what they all want for lunch, ring the pub and place the order. I know that many managers will hold up their hands in horror at that thought - you don't need to ring it through yourself (or at least not all the time) if you organise an informal rota. After lunch, become the accountant. Get the bill from the bar and collect the money off everyone. Show them that you are willing to get your hands dirty with mundane tasks. Car share on the way to the pub. Getting everyone out of the office gives the team something to look forward to and it's just more pleasant to get away from the phone/desk/computer/etc for a while.
To sum up, to build an effective team, start in the office. Value team members by action and ensure that they are given the opportunity to contribute in decision making. It takes time but you should be able to see improvements in morale in a few months. In part 3 I will offer you a couple of ideas for highly motivational off-site team building, essential for business skills development and complimentary to your efforts.
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