You may have good employees who are simply not working together well. This is a serious problem, and you can't grow until you address it. Here's how to get started.
- Create opportunities for your people to get together to tackle an issue, because the more they work together, the more likely they will be to begin to function as a close-knit team.
- Mine the learning from these group experiences, because an intense group effort can be the bridge to an entirely new way of working together. Celebrate the work that has been accomplished, congratulating the team on a job well done. This helps people on the team reflect on how it felt to work closely together.
- Give the process time, because building an effective team doesn't happen quickly. Employees who have spent their careers simply following orders are task-oriented; teamwork is process-oriented. A team atmosphere calls on everyone — not just the leader — to generate ideas, initiate projects and produce top-notch work.
And once you've created teams, how do you keep them working collaboratively?
- Put a clear emphasis on self-managing teams that are empowered to make their own decisions. Show your employees the seriousness of your commitment by giving teams the authority to get their jobs done on their own terms, ensuring they'll accept responsibility for the results.
- Give your teams important assignments and projects. Mix it up — don't have the same people making the same decisions all the time. Ask team members to challenge the status quo and conventional wisdom. This will keep your company fresh and ahead of the game.
- Encourage informal teams, because this allows employees to tackle concerns themselves, without elevating every little decision to top management. It will give you a more efficient organization.
- Cross-train employees, giving employees the opportunity to learn other people's jobs. Have top executives spend a few days working on the front lines with customers or directly with your product. They'll have a new appreciation for what your regular employees go through on the job.
- Provide team resources — such as a designated place to regularly meet or adequate time to devote to team meetings with no grief from supervisors. Make sure to supply your teams with guidance to see what's best for the company.
Employee teams are one of the best ways to get things done. A group of independently talented people can indeed become a team, merging their abilities and releasing energy and creativity. Loyalty and engagement will be greatly improved too.
Of course, this is just the outline — every company is different. Do you want the specifics on how to get your people working as a team? Our HR Support Center Product is something you should consider.