5 Necessary Elements for Effective Teams | BridgeBetween.com

5 Necessary Elements for Effective Teams

You’ve got a team assembled. Now what?

Bodies in chairs do not a team make! There are elements which are necessary within a team for it to work as a finely oiled machine. After all, a solid team can create unbelievable results as well as competitive advantage in the marketplace:

“The idea of building a good team is not just an abstract: these are real people, real projects and real goals.”

But bringing together different personalities with a range of skills and goals, you have to find some common points to build a cohesive team.

It’s important for any good leader to build up their teams to reflect five common elements of team success:

  • Results
  • Accountability
  • Commitment
  • Conflict
  • Trust

We’ll look at each of these in turn, in ascending order:

1. Trust

If you’ve ever worked in a group where team members didn’t trust each other, you’ll know exactly how it feels, compared to a team that has built up that inter-member reliance.

From a business point of view, trust comes with transparency. You’re not guessing what your colleagues are thinking: you know. You’re not wondering if someone is talking behind your back because they’re not. A team that has trust has members that have each other’s backs in terms of support for one another.

They’re also quick to point out and accept errors. That’s because, with trust, you know that your colleague isn’t pointing out a mistake to get you in trouble or for their own gain. They’re pointing it out because it’s in the interest of the common goals that you all agree on.

Honesty is vital to building real trust.

2. Conflict

It’s unrealistic to imagine a team of people agreeing about everything, all of the time. Conflict is inevitable but it’s the style of conflict that the team engages in that matters. This is linked to trust in that if you don’t have a team whose members trust one another, you can’t have healthy debates about issues and ideas.

Constructive disagreement is totally acceptable, knowing that the goal each person has is not to ‘take down’ the other but to contribute to the good of the team.

A team that can engage in debate but still provide a safe environment where everyone is heard respectfully is a solid team!

3. Commitment

When everyone has a voice and that voice can be expressed in a safe, trust-based environment, then it’s that much more likely that everyone on the team will be committed to whatever decision comes at the end of the discussion.

It doesn’t become about winning or losing: the commitment to a team and its decisions means compromise, sometimes, but again with the knowledge that everyone is working toward a common goal or results.

4. Accountability

Teams flounder when there are members who aren’t pulling their own weight. A committed team will hold each other accountable to the plans, processes and steps that need to be taken, to ensure that everyone is ‘in the game’, so to speak.

No one takes the credit and no one takes the blame but every team member does have to serve every other team member and one way to do that is through accountability.

Think of a football team, as an analogy. The goal for the team as a whole is to get the ball to the other end of the field. Each person on the team has a role to play and they know what that role is. If the quarterback stops doing his job or the halfback quits halfway through a play, the team, as a whole, will fail, so they hold each other accountable.

By working as a team and supporting one another and holding each person accountable for their part of the play, the team works as a cohesive whole and will score.

“By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!” (Source)

5. Results

This is the end goal of any team: to work together to achieve results. Whatever those results are, there is always a goal and getting there as a team creates strength that can be leveraged onwards.

With a solid grasp on these five elements, a team can make decisions quickly and effectively, leverage everyone’s differing skills, value all opinions, avoid destructive conflict, and have a solid goal that each member has a stake in reaching.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? If you want your team working and thinking this way, contact us to take part in the ‘Five Elements of Effective Teams’ program. It’s a benefit for the individuals, the team as a whole and the organization that supports them!

Risk Taking | BridgeBetween.com

Risk Taking: How to Encourage Growth on Your Team

Whether you call it risk taking or innovation, growth comes from moving forward, not standing still!

Taking risks in business is hard enough; allowing your team to do it with only minimal intervention on your part? That is harder still! But it’s risk taking and creative innovation that encourages team growth, not stagnation., so one of your roles as a leader is to push your team to take a little risk.

So, one of your roles as a leader is to push your team to take a little risk.

Risk doesn’t have to be reckless

If you want to encourage your team to grow and innovate, you have to give them clear parameters within which they are allowed to do so.

Whether that involves defining how much money can be spent in the pursuit of a new business track or creates boundaries on decision making and the point they need to involve you or a process of review, smart risk taking isn’t without limits.

Just be sure that your limits aren’t in fact so constraining that innovation isn’t ever going to be a part of the picture. A little discomfort and out of the box thinking is what propels people, and companies, forward.

Create a safe place for your team to take calculated risks

People will take risks if they know that they aren’t putting their necks — and their jobs — on the line. Fear is probably the greatest barrier to innovation.

Instead, you have to create a safe environment where your team clearly understands that despite everything done to mitigate problems, innovation comes with …well, risk!

Learning from mistakes or failure is essential. Whatever your team is attempting could all go very wrong. Or, it could all go very right. Either way, your ability to create a culture that includes accepting failure is the only way to encourage team members who fail to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and strive for more.

Either way, your ability to create a culture that includes accepting failure is the only way to encourage team members who fail to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and strive for more.

Model the behavior you expect to see

You can’t create a culture that encourages risk if you don’t engage in the behavior yourself. Leadership is all about walking the walk, not just talking the talk, so while you might fall flat on your face in attempting a little risk taking, playing it safe won’t motivate anyone.

As a member of the team yourself, you need to involve others in your decisions and demonstrate how you intend to take on and mitigate risks for the best possible outcome. Clear communication is fundamental to creating the right environment for growth.

Don’t just reward success

While there’s no question of giving everyone a ribbon ‘just for coming out’, it is important to reward successes AND failures. Not just any failure, of course, but ones that come from a strong attempt and smart risk taking.

If failure is not only tolerated but even praised for the goals that a team member was trying to achieve, others are more likely to take a step towards a little risk themselves. A team member need only understand that their career growth won’t be stunted by a failure.

And, in fact, might be improved by one, to decide that it is something they’re willing to engage in.

You can take it as far as celebrating the mistakes or failures, literally! Putting it out in the open and having the whole team own a failure creates some of that safety that individuals will be looking for.

Remember, not every failure is a categorical mistake. There is always something that can be learned and always some positive side effect that can be leveraged, if only that your team feels free to try again.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst

Part of mitigating risk is figuring out the worst case scenario in any given plan. If your team learns to look at all the possible consequences and assign relative value over risk to them, they will quickly be able to judge what is a smart risk or innovation and what isn’t.

That’s part of their growth as a team, and the company as a whole, which will help propel everyone forward, as time goes by.

However you inspire your team towards innovation, remember that nobody wins the game by playing it safe all the time. There are times for risk and there are times for safety: your job as a leader is to have a clear vision for both so that you can encourage your team in the right direction.

What to Do (or Not Do) on a Team

What to Do (or Not Do) on a Team

That old chestnut that there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’ is tired but true and those team members who forget it are likely to struggle.

Working in a team isn’t necessarily easy. It takes effort and requires contributions from every member in order to be effective. There are, however, some specific things you can do as a member of a team to ensure that you are acting as effectively as possible and inspiring others to do the same.

Speak up… and listen

Communication is key. If you aren’t talking, sharing, being honest and open, you probably aren’t communicating effectively and if you don’t, the other members of your team won’t know what you’re thinking. A team can operate cohesively but that doesn’t mean that other members are mind readers!

In addition to speaking and sharing, a good team member will also listen. And not just passive listening, where they take in what is being said around them and don’t react to it in any way, but active listening, where they feedback what they think they have heard, to ensure that there are no misunderstandings. Further, other team members will feel that their contributions are valuable if you demonstrate an interest in what they are saying. If you are playing on your smartphone while others are speaking, you aren’t communicating effectively.

Don’t play the blame game

When something goes wrong during a project, proactive problem solving is the best result a team can strive for. It’s important not to waste a lot of time and energy blaming individuals for an error; it’s more valuable to own the problem as a team, assess the damage and figure out a way to move forward.

That said, a team’s spirit can be undermined if there is a need to hold someone or several persons accountable for their actions and that accountability is not exercised; but that’s different from laying blame.

Accountability to the team is important: if everyone is participating and ‘pulling their weight’, so to speak, there should be no issue that can’t be handled as a team. It’s when there are individuals who do not have the motivation, interest or ability to participate that issues of blame begin to crop up.

Be supportive and an active player

To follow on the notion of accountability, all team members need to be active participants, supportive of their teammates. Cooperation, reliability and flexibility are the order of the day and a desire to achieve working ability through consensus makes for the strongest teams.

If everyone pitches in and does their share, contributes with their strengths and supports others as they contribute with theirs, each team member will have done the best they can to achieve the goals of the team as a whole.

You can’t control how others behave, but you can control your own behavior and it behooves us all to put our best foot forward, in every circumstance.

Take credit as a team

Goals are achieved as a team and therefore accolades need to be given to the team as a whole. While there may be one person or a sub-group that stand out as being particularly important in the achievement, the reality is that most great achievement does not happen in a vacuum. There are a lot of people who contribute to it and those contributions should be acknowledged.

Some things not to do, as a team member?

  1. Not contributing and giving out signs of apathy—if you don’t want to be on the team, or you don’t subscribe to the goals as set out for the project, it will show. Your lack of contribution—sitting on the sidelines, as it were—will eventually be resented by the other members of the group, which in and of itself can damage the group’s dynamics.
  2. Not communicating, at best; being rude, at worst—the importance of communication cannot be overstated. If you are in over your head, say so. If you need something from someone else in order to do your part of a project, say so. If someone is trying to tell you that they disagree with something you have done or said, listen to them. Ignoring others or arguing with them disparagingly will be damaging to any project.
  3. Not trustworthy, poor timekeeper, won’t get it done—reliability is essential in being an effective team member. If everyone else is doing their share and working to the best of their abilities and you can’t be bothered to show up to most meetings and don’t complete the tasks that are on your to-do list, you’re letting the whole team down.
  4. Only interested in personal gain—doing things as a team means achieving (or failing) as a team. If you are engaging in activities for your own personal gain and with no regard for your teammates, you’re there for the wrong reasons.
  5. Blames others when falls short—a good team will take the hits together. Blaming other team members instead of constructively trying to alter the methods used going forward is a weak approach and one that ultimately will not benefit the team.
  6. Negative attitude / not buying into team goals—we all have disagreements or times when we don’t necessarily agree with everything that is being done on a project. But rather than sitting in a corner passive-aggressively ranting about it, or worse, complaining to anyone who will listen, do something about it. This all comes back to communication and contributing, for an effective team.

 

So much of what I’ve said here is common sense but it’s all worth repeating and reminding ourselves about what works and what doesn’t, in a team environment.

 

3 Ways Gratitude Enhances Leadership by Shannon Cassidy

3 Ways Gratitude Enhances Leadership

The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more you will have to express gratitude for.—Bill Gates

As we enter the fall season, we begin to think of fall holidays, like Thanksgiving. But gratitude is not relegated to once a year on the 4th Thursday. Gratitude enhances leadership when practiced regularly and results in a more successful enterprise.

How? Here are three ways a simple attitude of thankfulness can change your business:

  1. Being grateful for your employees cultivates loyalty.

A typical day for any leader contains moments where you rely on your team’s expertise and work ethic. In those moments, the simple words “thank you” are vital. Everyone wants to be appreciated for their skill set and when they receive that pat on the back, loyalty to their leader is created. According to an article in Business News Daily, a recent survey revealed that 93% of respondents believed bosses were more likely to be successful if they were grateful.

Simple and sincere appreciation is the most effective form of positive reinforcement, and it’s free. The loyalty of a good employee is an effective tool for any company.

  1. Being grateful for your position as a leader cultivates humility.

Young Benjamin Franklin was said to be cocky and ego-centric.  But he was also smart enough to realize that he was becoming morally bankrupt. He set out to find character traits in which he needed to improve.  He came up with a list of twelve traits. Confident and proud of himself, he showed the list to a trusted friend probably with the idea of boasting of his efforts to improve. His friend then gave him a jolt that led to adding a 13th trait – humility. Leaders who cultivate humility inspire their employees. Egotism in a boss often fuels resentment, but humility creates a cheerful environment where employees want to succeed for the boss and the company.

Freibergs.com made the powerful observation:

When you are in awe of what you have, the immediate response is a deep sense of appreciation: “Whom do I repay?” “What does it mean to give back in life?” “How can I be a better steward of what I have?” These questions leave little room for envy, entitlement, or complaint. It’s hard to complain when we are truly thankful, but it’s hard to be thankful when we think we are entitled and take so much for granted.

Simply being grateful for your position as a leader can improve your company and your team.

  1. Being grateful cultivates mental strength.

For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma.  A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Gratitude fosters mental strength. There’s an old saying that if you’ve forgotten the language of gratitude, you’ll never be on speaking terms with happiness. This isn’t just a fluffy idea. Several studies have shown depression to be inversely correlated to gratitude. It seems that the more grateful a person is, the less depressed they are. Philip Watkins, a clinical psychologist at Eastern Washington University, found that clinically depressed individuals showed significantly lower gratitude (nearly 50 percent less) than non-depressed controls.

What leader would not want loyalty, humility and mental strength? These qualities can be characteristics of your company when you and other leaders in your company cultivate gratitude. Want a more successful company? Practice gratitude all year long.

Want to cultivate gratitude? Order your own gratitude journal here.

Sources:

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7157-power-perspective-leadership.html

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7157-power-perspective-leadership.html

http://linked2leadership.com/2013/11/26/humble-and-grateful-the-truly-effective-leader/

http://www.freibergs.com/resources/articles/leadership/lead-with-gratitude/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ocean-robbins/having-gratitude-_b_1073105.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/11/23/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-gratitude-that-will-motivate-you-to-give-thanks-year-round/

Maximizing Employee Productivity: It's as Easy as 1, 2, 3 photo Shannon Cassidy

Maximizing Employee Productivity: It’s as Easy as 1, 2, 3

How to maximize employee productivity may seem like the best kept secret in business, but it doesn’t have to be a challenge. Employees are motivated by the same things that motivate you; it’s simply putting the process into place that foster the desire to give their best every time they walk in the door.

Learn What Motivates Them

An annual engagement survey, a stay interview, or a casual conversation can bring light to the factors that motivate your best employees. By simply asking those who have dedicated years of hard work to the organization, “Why did you stay? What motivates you to work so hard? What would drive you to consider a new opportunity?” you can gain invaluable insight regarding motivators. Some might answer that they love the challenge of the position, while others may tell you that they feel the work they do makes a difference in the lives of others. Some might appreciate some light competition in the workplace while some may strive for reward or acknowledgement.

Once you understand what drives your best employees, you can develop policies and practices that provide this kind of motivation to all employees as a workplace culture. Perhaps you can promote feeling challenged by implementing a progressive fast-track to leadership program for those who show promise. You might help each employee understand how their contributions really matter to the company or what the company has done to support local causes to promote the personal satisfaction that accompanies performing meaningful work.

Establish a Work Environment that Drives Performance

Employees who are overheated, exhausted, or unorganized can’t perform to their full potential. Establish a work environment that’s conducive to stellar performance. Ask your employees which simple changes might increase their productivity to find quick wins that improve morale and boost productivity. HR managers often find that employee requests are not what they expected – they tend to be very inexpensive, unburdensome requests but fulfilling these requests instantly boosts morale and productivity. Some common requests include a small fan, an anti-fatigue mat, or a chair or stool.

Keep in mind that asking the question but failing to deliver can ultimately decrease productivity. If a request is made that simply can’t be done, it may be beneficial to explain the reasoning to employee who made the request and ask if they have any other ideas or suggestions that you can work on.

Reward Them for Achievement

Reward employees for longevity and productivity. Genuine acknowledgement in public is often the simplest and most meaningful reward to employees at every level and every supervisor, manager, and administrator can do it. Reward employees throughout the day by providing paid breaks every couple hours to refresh and recharge. Reward them annually by commending them for the dedication to the organization. Consider issuing small bonuses for production over a certain threshold.

The key to motivating employees to perform highly lies right within the walls of your own organization; it can be found through simple discussion with your very own high performers and then timely and sufficient follow through. Arm yourself with knowledge, respond appropriately, establish a comfortable environment, and reward your employees every day that they walk through those doors ready to produce.