We’ve all heard the expression, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” That could not be any truer than when applied to a business’ workforce. Just one or two weak employees can bring the entire staff’s performance down. Having a strong team and encouraging each employee to perform at his/her personal best is especially important during challenging economic periods, when competition for business is fierce. A cohesive team is also essential when a company is striving to get to a new level of growth and expansion.
So the question is, how do you build and maintain a strong team? There are many proven ways to motivate employees but here are just a few points to get you started:
- Provide continuous education and training so that employees can build new skills, and gain a better understanding of their co-workers’ roles so they can provide support and back-up to each other, when necessary.
- Give employees a voice in the business’ operations. Respect their opinions and implement viable recommendations — even if a staff member is recommending a new way of doing something and the old way works fine. Empower them in their roles and watch them assume more responsibility.
- Streamline workplace processes to minimize redundant operations and encourage greater accountability on the part of individual employees.
- Establish short and long-term goals and reward employees for meeting those goals.
- Create an employee community service initiative whereby employees volunteer together at a local nonprofit, develop fundraising campaigns, and/or participate as a team in local runs or walks for charity. Doing “good deeds” together, builds an esprit de corps.
- Apply technologies in conjunction with policies that facilitate better communications among staff members and enable employees in different locations to become familiar with one another to establish camaraderie. For example, hold weekly video-conferences and/or Skype contacts with remote locations. Schedule regular staff meetings and state-of-the company webinars.
- Promote a healthy work-life integration within the organization. Let employees know that management respects their personal time and supports them in the fulfillment of their personal goals, whether that means training for a triathlon, attending a child’s concert, or helping an elderly parent with a medical appointment.
Time and time again, various business surveys reveal that employees do not leave their jobs; they leave their boss or co-workers. Building a strong team implies that employees have a sense of belonging and are not at odds with their company’s management or co-workers. Recently, a study published in The Ashridge Journal, a publication of Ashridge, a business leadership school based in the United Kingdom, identified the crucial elements to the success of teams working in challenging environments including multi-disciplinary business settings. They found those elements to be: good communications, clear objectives, high levels of leadership competency and team coaching. For its part, management can be instrumental in facilitating this success by making a commitment to higher employee performance and better teamwork attainable through the adoption of proven measures.