No matter how talented individual leaders and managers are, a business’ ability to work as one team is key to your overall business success. This is especially true in this time of uncertainty and where many are working remotely. Now, more than ever, it’s critical you have connected and engaged teams who can operate productively in a changing environment.
There is a vast difference between team members who are committed and those who are just compliant. A key part of a manager’s job is to maintain a positive working environment and an organisational culture that draws every member of your team into the committed space. It’s about everyone genuinely wanting to do their very best.
“Coming together is a beginning
Keeping together is progress
Working together is success”
– Henry Ford
Give everyone a voice
Team members need to be heard to feel connected to you and your business. How committed is your team? Is it clear about its goals, which are tied to your business priorities? Making sure your team members are all clearly headed in the same direction is an important starting point. Try asking your leaders what they think the team’s goals are. You should get similar answers from each of them. To have your team really firing, every individual needs to be clear about their role in achieving those goals and to be excited about doing what they can to help the team.
Is yours an environment where communication channels are open for everyone and where top-down communication is clear and respectful?
When you observe your team in difficult discussions, is everyone’s voice heard? Do they respect each other’s opinions and really get to the heart of the matter? Too often leadership teams shy away from tough discussions or allow the loudest voice to dominate. Without everyone’s voice being heard you cannot be sure you have reached the best possible solution. Respect and effective communication across the team is critical.
Trust and respect
Diversity can be what makes your business really hum, but only if harnessed properly. A high-performing team trusts each other enough to be themselves, take risks, share ideas and support each other in hard times.
A business win is a win for the whole team, and this should be recognised. Wins are hard fought and may not come often. It is important your team feel proud of its efforts and inspired to keep going. Commitment and high-performance also need rewarding; small but meaningful gestures, such as a voucher for a treat at a café, can make all the difference to the team’s morale and motivation.
Have regular one-on-ones
Traditionally, one-on-one discussions are infrequent and focus on performance. To understand the ups and downs your team may be facing, schedule short, frequent individual discussions. Changing the focus of these is also key – try starting with “How are you going?” before moving onto work topics. Encouraging openness and recognising when someone needs help will not only connect you with your team it’s often all someone needs to feel better, to feel heard and to feel valued. Are you doing all the talking? Assess that ratio and make sure you are listening.
It’s OK to have ‘down’ days
Everyone I know has had at least one day of Covid-fatigue. They may be tired, have had something cancelled, or just feel worried. If your team understands that this is normal and it’s OK to talk about it, then they will feel supported and more likely to bounce back quickly. For some people, a ‘down’ day is more serious. Watching for signs that a team member might need more professional support can be a great help to them and their family.
Check that what you have communicated with your team has been understood. Can they ask questions? How do they give feedback? Implementing two-way channels will ensure your communication is more effective and allow it to be tailored more accurately to your team’s needs.
Take time to have a laugh
Laughter can be the best medicine, and often this is all people need to feel better about their day. Encourage some fun among your team and join in! They will feel a far greater connection to you and your business if they see you sharing their experiences.
Most of all, right now your team probably just needs your time and patience. Work to strengthen your culture, gain long-term commitment to your brand, and build solid team connections. It will be repaid in spades with commitment and high performance.
Alan Pettersen is the founder and director at Positive People HR Consultancy, a firm with over 25 years’ HR experience guiding and supporting businesses. If you need assistance with anything HR related, please contact Alan on 021 1845661 or firstname.lastname@example.org Watch the Positive People video at www.positivepeople.co.nz