A project is only as strong as the team working on it.
By Riya Rathod
People from different backgrounds, different cultures and different ways of life coming together to work on one product or project need to really expand their boundaries and find the team spirit inside them. A successful small business is one that manages to do a good job of this and makes these different people work together as one team.
1. Set a Clear Goal That Is Larger Than the Self – BHAGs
When people have a larger than life vision of the work they are doing or the result they are hoping to achieve, they want to do anything it takes to watch that vision come to life. Give your team members a truly compelling mission to strive for, something bigger than their individual ideas, something worth sticking it out for. Even before you hire the best team and set out to work, define your company’s vision, your BHAG – a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Wondering what those are? A BHAG, pronounced Bee Hag, is a long term, an overreaching mission statement that an entire company can orient itself to.
For instance, Nike’s BHAG in the 1960s was simply to ‘Crush Adidas’. That of Walmart in the 1990s was to become a $125 billion company by the year 2000. What is your BHAG? Make every member of your team feel like an important part of that mission. Make them feel ambitious about your vision and goal.
When each member of your team identifies with that mission and cause, they feel happy to collaborate with their teammates to make it happen. So right at the beginning of your projects, present a compelling mission and make every team member feel like an inherent part of the mission, a significant cog in the wheel.
2. Define Clear Roles
To prevent friction and negative competitiveness between employees, it is imperative that each member of the team feels secure about their place in the team. This can be accomplished by defining clear roles and giving each member of the team responsible for their time and abilities. Egos clash and frictions arise when there isn’t adequate clarity of roles in a team.
It is therefore crucial at the very start of the projects that each member be assigned a defined set of responsibilities. Establish accountability and ensure there is no ambiguity in this area, to make the entire team work like a machine.
3. Facilitate Open and Friendly Communication
Perhaps the most important building block of a strong team is communication. Create an open and uninhibited atmosphere for communication to happen without inhibitions. The newest member of the team should be able to easily express their opinions before the top-line management anytime they want. From new ideas and perspectives to any problem they might be facing, from asking for a second opinion to discussing an alternate methodology, all kinds of communication must be accepted with an open mind.
Doing so, in fact, serves a dual purpose. It greatly helps in creating an open and efficient team as well as promotes the flow of fresh ideas that help a multifaceted growth of your product.
4. Leverage Strengths of Each Team Member
Every individual possesses some inherent strengths and abilities. Some members of your team are good at ideating and others at executing. Some have a great ability to think from the customer’s perspective and predict problems that need to be solved, while others are meticulous with their fact-based research. Some have a high technical proficiency while others have a keen innovative spark. Every member of the team must be given the opportunity to play to their strengths. This puts your team members in their element and makes them confident. They are thus allowed to be their productive best and the resulting self-esteem is as helpful as the direct results of the job well done.
5. Create a Positive Culture and Environment
Let’s face it; your employees spend more time at work than anywhere else. It kind of goes without saying that they must enjoy being there. Establish a culture of fun, friendships, and fulfilling experiences. Informal banter, team building activities, enthusiastic leaders and inclusive management is crucial to making employees feel cared for and happy to be at work.
Have transparent conversations, be fair and maintain a lighthearted vibe. Of course, there will be times when you need to have difficult conversations, issue certain reprimands and draw some lines, but get those over with quickly and move on without souring the inter-personal relationship. Reprimand without being judgmental and encourage them to accept them as learning opportunities.
6. Do Fun Stuff
Yep, quite a simple no brainer. Create opportunities where the entire team can have fun together and spend time doing informal, non-work activities. Eating together is an age-old ice-breaker and perfect bonding opportunities. So organize a potluck or go on a team dinner.
Organize gaming and sporting events. You know what a humongous effect physical activity and endorphins can have on team building and breaking barriers. Set aside time to have an informal get-together or meeting with your team once a week. Talk about your team members, their lives and what they are doing outside work. In essence, create an atmosphere that is fun, vibrant and inclusive.
Coordinating with a bunch of strangers and working on a project together to create something amazing, requires an unflinching team spirit and oneness. Inhibitions and apprehensions are a part of human nature and when forming new teams, it is crucial to find a way to break barriers and develop a culture of friendship and bonding. Teams that bond, produce better results. The above steps can serve as a starting point for your organization to break barriers and develop team spirit that leads to major achievements.
Riya Rathod is a content writer and strategist at Inovatec. When not writing, Riya gives her time to do Hatha Yoga and conduct workshops related to entrepreneurship. She’s passionate about helping startups grow and making the web an inclusive & organized place.