Great teams are the building blocks of any organization. A great team has shared goals, clear roles, effective strategies for solving problems and making decisions, and the ability to deal with conflicts constructively. A good team may have some of these elements; a great team will have them all. In most organizations, it falls to team leaders to make sure all of these elements are in place.
Like all coaches, a successful team leader needs a playbook. When leading a new team or attempting to enhance team performance, there are a number of important team-building tips leaders should follow to ensure success.
8 Effective Team Building Tips
1. Emphasize Common Interests and Values
Great leaders emphasize mutual interests rather than allowing members to dwell on their differences. They find ways to identify shared objectives and explain why cooperation is necessary to attain them. Encouraging team members to share information and ideas in an effort to help each other is essential to team success.
2. Build Trust Among Team Members
Building trust and collaboration is vital when tasks require team members to share information, and other resources, help each other, and work together for a long time on stressful projects. If either of these elements is missing in a team, success may be elusive. Leaders can build trust by establishing clear expectations and emphasizing accountability. They can also facilitate communication that allows team members to get to know one another better and build stronger relationships that can serve as a foundation for trust. Team activities outside of the workplace are effective in this regard, but even creating a bit of time before or after meetings for discussion can help to strengthen bonds between team members.
3. Increase Incentives for Collaboration
Basing incentives on individual performance is a common personal development tip, but it also encourages people to compete with each other. Great leaders also use incentives based on team performance to encourage collaboration. One of the most effective strategies for increasing cohesiveness and team identification is to emphasize formal incentives based on improvement in team performance. Team-based rewards help everyone to push toward a common goal and serve as a reminder that each member’s work contributes to a greater whole. Another team-building tip is to use informal spontaneous individual rewards and recognition to emphasize the importance of service to the team, which ensures that team members feel valued for their contributions..
4. Make It Easy to Integrate New Team Members
Great leaders help assimilate new employees faster, transmit culture and values, and build a sense of community among members through orientation programs and other team building activities. The scope of these programs varies widely. Some organizations spend an hour or two going over key policies and procedures and asking new employees to fill out paperwork. Other organizations use the orientation as an opportunity to immerse the new member in the team’s culture and values. This is especially important for virtual teams, where onboarding new remote team members can be a challenge due to geographic distance.
5. Brand the Team
One of the more novel team bonding ideas, team branding creates strong group identification, especially when group members agree to wear or display the symbols of membership. Ceremonies and rituals can increase identification with the group and make membership seem special. Effective leaders can create a clear identity through group discussions, often encouraging their team to develop a team name, slogan, logo, or insignia. Branding helps team members to clarify what their team does and how they contribute to the company’s success. They can also foster a culture of friendly competition within an organization that encourages everyone to pull together and deliver the best results possible.
6. Emphasize the Importance of Conflict Resolution
No matter how clear the team’s goals are, conflict is inevitable when a team works together or in stressful situations. When people with different personalities and skills work together, they need to know how to listen and find common ground when differences of opinion arise. Conflict is not an inherently negative situation, but if not handled properly, it can result in negative outcomes. Teams with effective strategies for handling conflicts and disagreements constructively ultimately find the best solutions for team and company problems, which enhances team performance in the long run.
7. Build the Team Inside and Outside the Office
A collection of individuals become a cohesive team when members get to know each other on a personal level and find it satisfying to interact socially. Leaders can help foster such relationships with a variety of team bonding ideas. They could assign a room that team members can use as their break room or meeting area or host social activities, parties, and outings that allow people to interact outside of work. Getting team members out of the office will help them learn more about each other, create shared memories, and give everyone a chance to have positive bonding experiences and is one of the most effective team building tips.
8. Celebrate Team Achievements and Successes
Smart leaders recognize a team’s hard work and success when it has a big “win.” They can celebrate team achievements by placing posters in common areas, rewarding the team with a free lunch or a half-day off, or by presenting them with an award at an event. Doing something to recognize a team’s success reinforces the bonds between team members and serves as a reminder that team members are all contributing to a collective goal. Ceremonies aimed at celebrating achievements or marking an anniversary of events in the history of the group are more effective when they emphasize the group’s values and traditions.
High performing teams help to make a company unique. Not only do they embody the culture and goals of the organization, they play a critical role in helping the company to achieve lasting success. By developing strong teams, leaders can enable people to become better problem solvers and accomplish shared goals. Creating strong teams is one of the most important things that a leader can do within an organization.
These team building tips can help leaders to lay the groundwork for successful teams, but even the best team leaders need some extra help at times. OnPoint Consulting offers a variety of programs to improve cross-functional and virtual teams while strengthening core leadership competencies of high-potential leaders within an organization.