The word "synergy" gets bandied about a lot in today's business world. If you don't speak corporate jargon, it means the phenomenon of multiple like-minded individuals merging their ideas to create something more incredible than any member of the team could have conceptualized alone. Or to borrow an age-old expression, "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
When it comes to business, this theory is valid. In fact, the role of teams in small business is integral to its success. In addition to maximizing productivity, small teams perform functions that:
Motivate employee and boost morale
Provide solutions to complex problems
Maximize strengths of the members
Create an enjoyable work environment by fostering camaraderie
There are dozens of team building activities that can be incorporated into meetings and company outings. In fact, there are even companies specializing in corporate retreats and weekend getaways geared towards building functional, successful teams. But there are also ways to maximize your team’s effectiveness on a daily basis—without spending time and money. The following are six simple ways to build your team.
1. Remove physical boundaries. Creating an open office space free of cubicles and confining space forces neighborly contact. It helps create an environment designed to encourage communication and collaboration and eliminates the physical boundaries created by cubicle and office walls.
2. Get out of the office. Every now and again, it’s good to get the team out of the office. Take lunch at a local restaurant or have a weekly happy hour at a local bar. Form a kickball team and challenge other companies to a game. Encourage the group to get together off the clock to become friends, in addition to being co-workers.
You may also want to consider partnering with a local nonprofit organization with which your team can volunteer their time and efforts for the greater good. Many local communities have Relay for Life, Habitat for Humanity or other nationally recognized events and organizations that depend upon both company and friendly teams to help raise funds. Encouraging your team to work together to give back to their community develops a sense of purpose and pride that isn’t easily replicated via other methods.
3. Change the vernacular. It’s simple and easy to make your language more team-friendly. Changing a few simple words in your everyday verbiage can make a difference by implying less hierarchy and a more team-oriented atmosphere:
Hire people to work with you not for you
Be a leader instead of a boss or supervisor
Create a sales or marketing team instead of department
Giving your team members a sense of ownership will create the synergy every company needs to succeed.
4. Trust your employees. Trusting your employees goes beyond just trusting them to perform the duties of their jobs. Allowing them to take part in company discussions and decisions can bolster positive team morale and make those with even entry-level positions feel important. This doesn’t mean that every critical decision must be put to a team vote, but do allow their suggestions to be heard, especially if the outcome affects their respective duties. Furthermore, brainstorming in a team environment may uncover some otherwise-missed opportunities and solutions.
5. Incorporate families. Inviting families to join after-hours picnics, employee recognition days and other group activities is not only a positive way to build morale, but also brings team members together. An employee with young children may find she has something in common with a counterpart in a different division, simply because their children are the same age.
6. Incentivize success. Team rewards are a great way to encourage and enhance teamwork. While not as cheap as the above mentioned tips, they're more economical and less time-consuming than hiring consultants or booking an offsite retreat. By offering cash bonuses to the top-performing teams, rather than the top-performing individuals, you encourage employees to collaborate utilizing their collective strengths and intellect. When the whole team has a financial stake, each individual has more incentive to perform at his best for the benefit of the entire unit.
It’s been said, time and time again, that teams are only as strong as their weakest link, so it’s imperative to continuously build and grow your teams to perform at their optimal levels.
How have you encouraged your teams to grow?
Angela Stringfellow is a PR and MarComm Consultant and Social Media Strategist offering full-circle marketing solutions to businesses. Angela blogs via Contently.com.
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