Building and coaching a strong team
American culture is sometimes contradictory. As soon as we begin kindergarten, and sometimes before, we are pressured to socialize – we must “play well with others.” The conundrum that plagues us is this. We play on teams, yet individual awards are given to the best offensive player; we are put in groups at school, yet we get individual grades; we are socialized in PE and on the playground, but we are singled out for reward and discipline.
It’s no wonder that when we enter the work place, that we want to be the “I” in team. A strong team in the workplace is a major asset, and while you may have built a potentially strong team based on abilities and strengths, to have a team that is truly successful, you may need to do some coaching. Try these four tips for encouraging strong team work.
Four tips for encouraging strong team work
- Set clear expectations. Inform the group that you are working for a purpose with specific goals, and give each team member a clear role. We’ve all seen a t-ball game. Nine little guys are sent out on the field, and while they may be given positions such as first baseman or short stop, they really don’t understand the role of those positions. They all leave their posts and run for the ball when it is hit, and inevitably, instead of throwing, one little dude will grab the ball from the outfield and physically run it infield to chase the runner himself. Don’t forget the kiddo in right field picking weed bouquets for his mama. Give specific responsibilities and explain how they are conducive to the goal lest you be the proud recipient of those weeds.
- Don’t micromanage. A micromanager is a boss who assigns tasks and then meddles in the details. It’s patronizing. Did you have that mother that would assign you a chore, tell you step by detailed step how to do it, hover and instruct while you tried to work, and then secretly (or so she thought) go behind you and re-do it? Yeah. Don’t be that boss, or your team will pull the old teenager trick on you. They’ll procrastinate because they know you’ll eventually do everything yourself anyway. There’s no “u” in team either.
- Have regular meetings with your team. Gather on a regularly scheduled basis to discuss progress. Point out accomplishments and brainstorm where things aren’t working as well. Ask for input from the team as equally important players. Listen to the consensus, and implement the suggestions.
- Don’t forget morale. In addition to celebrating successes and praising the strength of the team, participate in some fun for the fun of it. Knowing each other on a more personal level makes for an amiable team, and let’s face it. Once you’ve made a Harlem Shake video together, there can be no animosity.