As leaders and their teams roll into another year of the pandemic, there’s fatigue and frustration mixed with uncertainty about what the year will bring.
While these times are challenging, what’s needed to create a great workplace and team dynamics hasn’t changed. If anything, it’s just elevated its importance.
At its core, people are brought together into a team to get things done. The rationale is that more is achieved together than alone. The merit of that logic depends on how well the team works together.
The past couple of years have been challenging for many teams, with resulting impacts on culture and engagement. For example, the pandemic has seen employee engagement fall and workplaces become more siloed.
As a leader, it’s time to focus on what you can do to reboot, refresh and refocus your team.
Have a clear purpose and vision
Teams achieve more when they have common goals and clear direction. There are several ways you can do this.
One such way is by creating a purpose and vision board for your team. This board details why your team exists and what it wants to achieve. It’s created collaboratively and is often visual and colourful, with images and words.
Whichever form you use to capture these details, it operates as a reference point, reminding the team of what matters to them and what they want to achieve.
Make every milestone count
Everyone likes to see they are making progress. We find it motivating. In contrast, a lack of progress and constant setbacks are demotivating.
Consequently, find ways to break the team’s work into smaller, more bite-sized pieces of work, making it easier to see more regular progress. When you secure your milestone, take the time to acknowledge and thank the team for their work.
Nurture your team’s strengths
Research conducted over the past 30 years demonstrates that a strengths-based approach leads to greater work satisfaction, engagement, and productivity, as evidenced in Tom Rath and Barry Conchie’s book, Strengths-Based Leadership.
The team’s leader will usually know what each team member is doing and how each individual contributes to the whole. However, often team members don’t have the same level of understanding. This ambiguity breeds disengagement and distrust. It also means that team members can’t leverage each other’s skills as effectively.
As a leader, you play a valuable role in helping your team appreciate the strengths they bring to the role, and helping them recognise and value the strengths their colleagues do too.
One way to do this is by using a diagnostic tool so each team member can identify their strengths and then share them with the team. This exercise becomes an excellent team-building activity when done in conjunction with a supportive and facilitated discussion.
Know what matters to your team
Everyone wants to feel they matter and be acknowledged, so as a leader, there are many small steps you can take every day to build connection and engagement with your team.
Don’t forget the simple things. For example, take an interest in your team, their work and career development, and find out what they care about. Take the time to check in on them. Be supportive and responsive.
Don’t ignore their emails, and don’t cancel one-on-one meetings. While there will be occasions when you may need to change a meeting with a direct report, the team member is left feeling devalued and stressed when you regularly do this. Always be polite and appreciative of the efforts of those around you.
Legendary basketball player Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
Michelle Gibbings is a workplace expert, and the author of three books; Bad Boss, Career Leap and Step Up. She is a global keynote speaker and facilitator and is on a mission to help leaders, teams and organisations create successful workplaces – where people thrive and progress is accelerated.