Keeping your team working together well
From professional sports teams to small businesses teamwork is pretty common in running a successful business. While teamwork can be a great asset to any company sometimes it is hard to keep the team members working together well. Fights can break out over what should be done and how something should be handled. You can have a lack of communication, or just people not getting along. All of these things can be caused by the numerous personality differences, as well as different views on life and their own personal experiences, being mixed together.
As a person in management or just a concerned member of the team, you might be looking for ways to help your team work together despite their differences. Below you will find some ideas that will help set you in the right direction.
Set up your own policy and procedures. Every company has a policy and procedure manual that its employees follow, so as a team you might want to start with your company's policies and procedures to get some type of idea about how you guys want things to work. Set clear guidelines for a variety of topics including but not limited to when and where you guys will meet, the best form of communication for your team, who is going to lead the meetings, keep track of important notes, how to deal with potential problems, and most important, what kind of behavior is expected from each team member. Establishing these ground rules in the beginning can help, but as time goes on your team should revisit these policies and procedures to determine if they still work for the team.
Deciding how decisions will be made. This is probably one of the trickiest areas when it comes to teams because everybody has their own idea on how to do things and what should be done. By making these decisions early on you might avoid some potential problems. One way to make a decision is for everybody to come up with an idea and go around the room talking about the pros and cons and then take a majority vote. Some others ideas include a unanimous decision, weighted decisions, multi-voting, and criteria based voting. Of the types listed not every type will work for every team, your team must decide which way works best for them and that could include using a variety of ways depending on the issue at hand.
Dealing with conflict! Out of all of these tips dealing with conflict is the hardest because so many people don't want to discuss it. If your group can figure out a way to deal with conflict they will be able to keep working well together. Disagreements about ideas that lead into group discussions about why you think this would or would not are a good thing. This type of conflict actually improves the performance of the group by making the group more effective. But if those discussions turn into name calling or finger pointing the team is not effective all it does is upset people. To keep your team working together well you need to come up with a way to head off these personal conflicts once they start. Two common ways to do this is to avoid talking about personal feelings keep focused on the decision at hand and if a personal conflict does arise suggest taking a short break so that people can collect their thoughts and calm down.
Communicate! Many people think that just by talking they are communicating but that is not always the case. In order to properly communicate you must know when to talk and when to listen. As a group this is even harder to accomplish because of the different personalities. Some people might talk more than others, some people might get sidetracked, and others might start talking over other people. In order to function well as a group you need to learn how to communicate effectively. Some ideas would to be taking turns in leading the discussions, asking the non-talkers for their opinions, asking people to wait their turn, or using a variety of tools to communicate your ideas, such as audios or visuals. By effectively communicating your team will work together well because nobody is feeling like their ideas don't matter and that the group doesn't care what they think. By including and listening to everybody's opinions your team is working as one.
By setting up a group policy and procedure manual, deciding how decisions will be made, dealing with conflict, and communicating you can keep your team working together well.