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Teambuilding Tactics That Get Results - Page 1

Feb 23, 2007
By

Katherine Spencer Lee






As much as people in a typical IT department may seem to have independent roles and responsibilities — some doing help desk, others managing security issues, for instance — they all must feel part of a team.

When employees have a connection to one another and share a common goal, the payoffs can be huge, not only for the individual but also for the department as a whole: better communication, enhanced productivity and greater on-the-job satisfaction.

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Whether you’re trying to bring together the entire IT staff, a group within the department or specific work teams, the strategies for building unity are the same:

Inspire

If the team’s goals are to “optimize productivity levels” or “implement technology more efficiently,” chances are participants will not be as motivated as they could be, if at all.

Vague objectives filled with business-speak fail to excite most people. Instead, give your staff a concrete objective that’s easy to understand: “Earn the company’s award for the department with the highest customer service levels.” The mission should be one that directly affects their daily work so you can generate buy-in to the idea and hold everyone’s interest over time.

Define

When you’re initiating a project, make sure everyone within the group understands his or her role. Again, be specific. Rather than saying, “Joe and Maria will help select the new desktop systems for the accounting department,” narrow it down: “Joe will be in charge of reviewing the department’s needs and will then make recommendations to Maria. Maria will make the ultimate decision about the best products to purchase.”

The better people understand the parameters of their work, the less risk there will be for misunderstandings and conflict.

Share Power

Also, make sure you’re giving team members the authority to fulfill their responsibilities. Avoid micromanaging and allow people the freedom to test ideas.

When a group encounters a problem, encourage participants to work together to develop a solution. It’s OK to serve as an advisor during challenging situations but be careful not to rush in and solve every issue for them.

When employees work in partnership and are responsible for the ultimate outcome, they’ll gain more out of the process, both in terms of bonding as a group and building problem-solving skills.

Build Camaraderie

Team members who understand one another make the most effective collaborators. In the haste to meet tight deadlines and simply complete the task at hand, though, many companies fail to allow sufficient time for people to make a personal connection. Be sure your firm isn’t one of them.

One strategy that can help is to ask individuals in a particular group to cross-train one another so all members can learn about the responsibilities, pressures and priorities of their teammates. Also, don’t be afraid to shake up the typical makeup of a unit to encourage people to bond with others outside their immediate circle.

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