How to encourage teamwork

I’ve just become manager of a team of nine. They all have their own particular strengths, but I feel everyone could gel together better. How can I encourage the team without forcing the issue?

Becoming a manager gives you the perfect opportunity to stand back and see your new team and what you are all aiming to achieve from a clear and fresh perspective. Enjoy this before you get too embroiled in the tactical detail of the jobs you are all doing.

Putting a solid groundwork in place to support the team at the outset will have significant payoffs in terms of productivity and results in the medium and long-term.

Remember there are two areas for you to concentrate on. First, your role as leader of the team: this focuses on who you are and how you behave, as well as the results you want to produce, so you effectively become a role model for what you want from your team. Second, you need to look at team dynamics and how to get the team working together.

It is important that you focus the spotlight on yourself first, as your team will ultimately become a ‘mirror’ of you. It is critical you are clear on your own strengths and how you best contribute to the team and the business.

What are the three qualities that make you most successful in your role? Write them down and review them regularly. Spend the coming weeks and months working to your strengths and exploiting these fully with your team.

Spend time on your vision for the team, not only in terms of what you achieve, but also in how you go about making the results happen. Once you have scoped out some initial ideas yourself, share them with your team. By engaging them early on you will start to enhance positive team energy, and a shared sense of purpose will become established.

Discussing your team dynamics on a regular basis will be fundamental in helping the team work together better. At your weekly team meetings, encourage people to be honest and to share what they are proud of having achieved in the previous week, what their focus areas are moving forward, and what challenges they may face.

Encourage honesty on anything that isn’t working for them, and ask them to share any lessons learned that will enable them to do things differently next time. If members of your team work remotely, organise a telephone conference call so no-one misses out.

Finally, if you are serious about getting people to gel quickly, I would actively recommend personality profiling. This will help you to gain a clearer understanding of how each member of the team relates to the others and how to communicate and bring out the best in each other.

By Carole Gaskell, founder and managing director, Full Potential Group

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