Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends Report, 2017 had 86 percent of respondents saying that companies are pushing towards a more flexible and team-centric model, as opposed to the traditional models based on hierarchy. The organization of the future is a “network of teams.”
However, great teams don’t come out of a vacuum. They need a lot of work, special mention to contribution by leaders. In order for this future of teams to be successful, leaders need to build systems that encourage individuals and teams to function optimally, and in coherence with one another. All teams, irrespective of their special functions, need to come together at some point, and those responsible for people functions need to ensure this happens at will. Along with cross functional team bonding, the same harmony also needs to be ensured within members of same teams as well. Fostering such feelings of belonging within and across teams matters for employees, and makes them more productive.
Here are some ways in which organizations can bring together great teams and unleash a feeling of team spirit among employees.
Hiring the right culture fit
Picking the right people for teams might seem like an overwhelming and long process, but it has several long term benefits. Hiring just to fill up teams with bodies is ultimately going to cost, as it might mean taking the wrong people in. Finding out later than an employee isn’t really the right fit, or facing an ever-increasing employee turnover rate can be avoided if hiring is done on the basis of cultural fit.
In order to be able to do this, the right candidates need to be filtered by asking the right questions, and gauging the attitude under a microscope. This needs to be accompanied with investing time and money in hiring people who truly specialize in the role up for grabs. The common values of the organization need to be kept in mind so as to ensure that the new hire is in sync with what is expected individually, as well as at a team level.
Offering value to each role
A team has a diverse set of people, each being responsible for bringing something special to the table. Each and every contribution of everyone in the team should matter. Everyone in the team needs to feel valued and needed in order to bring a positive change within the company. Everyone should be able to see the value of their work and labor, and be able to justify why they even come to work everyday.
When employees work is undervalued or ignored, they lose their whole sense of purpose. This sense heightens when favoritism is practiced within teams. Everyone needs to be treated equally and given a fair chance. Without giving value, it becomes very easy to leave mentally as work starts seeming alien. Validation for what one does needs to be offered by the leaders in the organization.
Offering psychological safety to employees
Psychological safety is what refers to when people feel comfortable to express, speak up, debate or communicate openly among team members. It is the feeling that gives the confidence to share one’s own ideas in front of a group of people without feeling any kind of hindrance. Psychological safety ensures that meetings end up being productive, rather than just a task, and employees feel free to talk about their own views.
Encouraging psychological safety needs to come from leaders, largely by being good listeners. Leaders need to set the path for transparent communication, encourage employees to be the best versions of themselves, and set an example by being the role models themselves. Understanding and being responsive to employee needs is crucial to spread the feeling of safety within an organization. Only when employees feel like they can voice their opinions in a free environment will they feel worthwhile and valued in the real sense.
Company retreats and off sites are also a great way to boost feelings of psychological safety. Having informal conversations about non-work related topics and bonding in a non work setting also helps foster personal bonds.
Ensuring that transparent communication takes place across all levels of teams and functions is critical for employees to have a sense of belonging. It is difficult for employees to feel like they are a part of a team when they only receive filtered information, or when they are kept away from being filled in on updates.
Technology is the rescue here and should be incorporated into the daily functioning of teams. Apps like Slack that put together everything in one place acts like a open medium of communication, keeping everything on display. Apart from this, teams need to be aware of meetings well in advance, along with agendas being shared uniformly. Weekly check ins help being new ideas to the table through brainstorming, and also learn from once another. Everyone should be made a part of the updates, whether its related to new policies, products, customers or sales.
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