How to Build Team Spirit
from, Management—Getting the Best Out of Others
Without a team spirit, organizations can suffer. No matter how well-organized and planned a venture may be, without the commitment of the team behind it, the objectives will not be as effectively or as quickly met.
Building team spirit is about engaging the emotions of the team members. It is more than a cerebral idea that a team is more than the sum of its parts; it is truly feeling that you are a part of something worthwhile, and that everyone is working together to make a success of things. There should be a sense of enjoyment at being amongst your colleagues, and so much the better if that happy relationship extends beyond the workplace to recreational activities.
Having a team spirit means that problems do not escalate due to the impact of conflicting personalities. Even if there are personality clashes, a team spirit will serve to reduce their negative effects because the individuals concerned should have as their overriding concern the wellbeing and emotional health of the team. Differences can be put to one side for the greater good.
These are some of the areas managers may want to look to when considering how they can build their team spirit:
1. Co-operation amongst team members should be encouraged, and forming smaller groups that work together on tasks and projects can help to promote closer working relationships. In this way, team members are directly involved with each other’s work, and fully aware of how all the parts contribute to the whole.
2. Clear the decks of unnecessary clutter. This means
identifying all the extra bureaucracy and paperwork and tasks that
detract from the job at hand and thus reduce motivation.
A team spirit cannot be engendered in individuals whose focus is on petty matters. This may not be easy in this age of double and triple checking, but if such matters are unavoidable, try and find ways for employees outside the team to cover them, or attend to them yourself.
3. Build a strong relationship between the organization and its customers, and encourage customer feedback so that your team can appreciate the positive effects they are having. Try to involve customers in company events for face-to-face feedback opportunities. Make sure that upper management does not remain aloof, but make sure they are also involved in passing on positive feedback wherever possible.
4. Allow your team some autonomy. As much as you are the manager of the team, your team may not regard you as being a part of their operation. Just as in sports, there is a separation between the team and their manager; the team is primed by the manager and then allowed to work their magic. This is a useful lesson for the business world.
This should clearly not reach the point where your word lacks authority, but your team should certainly be allowed to carry on with minimal interference if they are on target for their given objectivesIn the same way, do not impose too many rules and regulations just for the sake of having them in place to prove your authority. The confident manager can easily step back and know their influence remains intact.
5. Make the workplace an enjoyable place to be. Managers should not be reluctant to inject humor into the situation for fear of creating a flippant atmosphere. Trust that your team is mature enough to know when enough is enough. A sure fire way to damage team spirits is by trying to enforce a dour mood, thinking that this is the only way to keep your team focused on important matters. This is insulting to your team. It is quite possible to have a sense of humor and a serious attitude towards work.
In fact, the former positively encourages the latter, as it provides an essential counterbalance. It is unreasonable to expect that your team should be deadpan the whole day. Humor helps to release the tensions that can build from hard work, and it can help free a little creativity into the bargain. Just make sure that the humor is healthy, and does not, in certain cases, shift into personal put-downs.
6. Open up about yourself. This does not mean wheeling in a couch and recounting your whole life story, but your team will be encouraged to know that you understand their feelings because you were perhaps once in their shoes, and they will also appreciate the trust you have placed in them by not keeping a professional distance. Showing your human side can encourage your team members to lower their own barriers, and the more affinity they feel for each other on a human level, the better they will work with each other.
7. Strive to avoid disagreements. This can be dealt with by maintaining and encouraging communication. There will always be times when even the best of teams suffers a little internal misunderstanding, but this should not be a problem if all parties are able to freely talk about how they perceive the problem arose and offer suggestions on how it may be resolved. Managers must be realistic in this respect, and not think that there should be perfect peace and harmony within their team. If this appears to be the case, team members may feel reluctant to speak out and any grievances will continue to simmer.
8. Recognize and celebrate when objectives are achieved. Team spirits can be lifted when their work results in the attainment of their objectives. Managers should not let these moments pass unannounced. It may be possible to organize from the budget some team rewards that mark such achievements. However, even daily triumphs should be congratulated. Remember that a little praise goes along way.