Teambuilding Tactics That Get Results
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 youre 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:
If the teams 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 thats easy to understand: Earn the companys 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 everyones interest over time.
When youre 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 departments 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.
Also, make sure youre 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. Its 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, theyll gain more out of the process, both in terms of bonding as a group and building problem-solving skills.
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 isnt 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, dont be afraid to shake up the typical makeup of a unit to encourage people to bond with others outside their immediate circle.For instance, when forming a project team, you might include employees who wouldnt normally be asked to participate, such as junior staff or individuals from a different specialty in the department. This can help the group formulate new ideas, build rapport and foster a greater respect for what each person brings to the company.
Hold Effective Meetings
Teambuilding exercises outside of the office also can be a great way to motivate a group; however, these events can have the opposite effect if theyre not managed correctly.
For starters, make sure youre not planning activities that require physical strength or endurance; youll only make those with health conditions or limitations feel excluded. Strive to keep a balance between work and fun activities.
If events are too serious or difficult, people may find them draining, while ones with no clear connection to situations at the office may be viewed as a waste of time. Off-sites should be scheduled during slower periods so people arent constantly checking their Blackberries and cell phones to keep up with work.
Set The Example
Finally, remember, as a leader, you set the tone for any group. If you complain openly about how difficult it is to accomplish objectives when forced to rely on others in the company, youre effectively telling employees that teamwork is more harmful than helpful make sure your words and actions encourage effective collaboration.
Teambuilding goes beyond just planning a special outdoor activity or assigning a group of people to solve a business problem, it takes long-term strategy and refinement.
Even in the best of groups, problems can arise and changes in motivational strategy may need to be made. For instance, removing a team member whos damaging morale often can spark renewed energy among remaining participants.
If you periodically re-evaluate whats working and what isnt and make appropriate adjustments, youll help sustain a groups motivation over time and generate the best possible results.
Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multi-platform systems integration to network engineering and technical support. Robert Half Technology has more than 100 locations in the North America and Europe, and offers online job search services at www.rht.com.