There is growing interest from most organizations in team building. While the goals of each might differ, there are universal ways to build a team.
Whether you are trying to raise awareness for a particular cause, or increase a bottom line, team building counts. There are several authors and presenters who believe in teams working together.
Productivity, job satisfaction, reduced burnout, and overall well being are some of the positive results of being a part of a team. Consider these, often overlooked, seven unconventional ways to build a team.
Speak Well of Others
Too often, managers and supervisors instruct individuals by pointing out the mistakes of others. In some ways it comes naturally, as the last proverbial fire that was put out, is often what is on our minds.
I have been in conversations where I had to defend a coworker. You may have heard someone criticizing someone in your department or company and wondered how to respond.
Ultimately, there are two choices. Be happy you are not the one messing up, or urge a person to see things in another way.
What we all know, is that it will probably be you in the next conversation. We all suspect that it is already.
Most people have heard, “you will not believe what they said about you.”
But what if word got around that your supervisor or coworker said something good about you. It would change your day… and your team.
If you listen to most conversations, you will find that people are struggling to be heard. Whether it is work related or not, people struggle with thoughts they would like to be known.
One of the best ways to build a team is to be genuinely interested in the lives of those on the team. Nothing screams, “I’m interested,” like asking a second or third question.
If someone says they saw a car they liked, you might ask about the first car they owned. If someone mentions they did not like a movie, you might ask which movie they enjoyed most.
It seems silly to have to include a heading titled, “Ask Questions”, because on some level it makes the most common sense. We sometimes lose our grasp on common sense.
Genuinely asking questions about a topic already on the table is the most effective way of learning. It is also the most effective way of caring, and caring helps build teams.
Before you enter a room full of team members, take a moment to breathe. Take a moment to consider what you really want to accomplish during that particular interaction.
I have spent half a day with teams, only to drive away wondering what I was there to cover in the first place. We all have.
Some people do it with meditation before work. Some people do it while working. Still, others might need to write out the intention for the day each morning.
Whatever needs to be accomplished can be helped by a few deep breaths, focused attention on the end result, and a bit of a reset. It also helps to review some of the accomplishments of team members before interacting with them.
While I call it “center” here, my grandfather said it another way. “Get your mind right.”
No matter how good we are, our daily stresses affect our daily interactions. Teams are helped when team builders destress.
Do Anything But Lead
I speak with leaders often. I follow several leadership threads on various platforms.
The most detrimental response to the question, “how to build a team,” is that there must be a leader. We all want to enhance our leadership skills, but hear me out on this.
Pardon my reaching back 2500 years, but the Tao Te Ching describes the best leader as one that remains in the background. The best leader, according to Lao Tzu, is one whose team says, “we did it without any help at all.”
You may very well be a leader, but nobody has to know. If you do leadership correctly, nobody ever will.
This flies in the face of our “climb up the ladder” mentality, but I promised unconventional ways to build a team. This is not an article for understanding how to get credit for your work.
If you want to build teams, then teams should be the focus. If you want an “attaboy” from those at the top, team building will suffer.
Surely, one might say, you have lost your mind. What could possibly be accomplished with another meeting.
One of my friends and colleagues calls company gatherings, “sales prevention meetings”. That could make sense, depending on the objective and regularity of the meeting.
The old joke that we need meetings to plan the next meeting has become a reality in some ways. Not really a joke at all.
When I advise meetings, it should be defined as including these. Education (about anything), silliness, objectives (professional and personal), and the chance for others to learn about who is sitting next to them.
If a meeting has these, then a meeting is worth the gathering. That is, if you want to build a team. If you only want to pump out numbers and demand results… an email will suffice.
Every person on a team needs to feel like they are essential to the group. Responsibility is the quickest way a team member can be invested in success.
If all you need are duplicates of “you” to get a job done, there is no team to begin with. In order to build a team, trust needs to be placed in others to build success.
Even more unconventional, team members need to be trusted to determine what success looks like.
Trust is not a welcome idea in some organizations today, because it takes too much time. It requires an open mind, and more so, the expectation of failure has to be embraced.
Inevitably, there will be short term failures. In the long run, teams that trust each other help each other, and helping each other is the fastest way to all that teamwork brings.
Know Who Is On Your Team
Who is on your team?
Your teammates are customers, vendors, those you work with and those you work around. Even the so-called “competition” could be considered a member of your team, if you value your industry as well as your profit margin.
Louis Hay explained abundance (which can be wealth, well being, or any number of things) in a simple way. According to her, there are oceans of goodness, and we draw out whatever container we bring to the shore.
She also pointed out, that if we are in the same room, we would not begrudge another breath, because we needed air. There is plenty to go around.
We may work in a “dog eat dog” environment, and we might believe in the growing illusion that we have “market share”, as if it were a set measurement. Even still, it helps to expand our vision of who is on our team.
I am not saying everyone has the same role or consideration. I am saying that everyone has worth. And that might be the most unconventional statement of all.
You might find that others are willing to help, regardless of their position or place in the world.
Why Build a Team?
There is wisdom in the African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Our world is becoming increasingly smaller with the advent of technologies that feed our brains full of information. It is also becoming more and more isolated as we are overwhelmed by all of that information.
It does make sense to build a team. We get more done with less effort.
It makes sense in the larger scheme of things also. We get to affect more lives in a positive way.
We get to root for each other, and we get to encourage each other. When it is all said and done, whether it is a for-profit, or a non-profit, meaning is what matters.
While team building may not be the goal of the masses, it is the world I want to live in.
Find more of your own unconventional ways to build a team. I am certain you will be happy you did.
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Stay awesome and here is wishing your team much success. – Kevin