A Group is not a Team
One of the most challenging tasks facing a supervisor is how to take the group of employees that work for them and mold them into a team. Too often in businesses, we are confronted with cliques, separation, and division. It is often an uphill battle for a supervisor to get all employees involved in the work of the organization. Teams, or a sense of teamwork, isn’t created by forcing a group of people to meet weekly in the same room. It is created by an increased sense of community that comes from shared objectives. Employees need to have a reason in common to work together as a team. So how do you get everyone on board? What is it that prevents people who work together from becoming a cohesive unit?
7 Practices That Turn a Group into a Team
- Help team members to look at their mission in terms of the organization’s survival.
When team members understand their role in the bigger picture, they are more motivated to pull together.
- Set short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals.
In a cross-functional team, we would be talking about the action plan associated with achieving the team’s mission. If the team is made up of staff, then you want to involve them in writing the group’s mission and setting strategic and tactical plans for achieving that mission. As they better understand the part they can play in the survival and success of their organization, they will work harder together to make the plans a reality.
- Shared responsibility.
Teamwork develops from shared responsibility not only in doing the work but in making decisions about how that work should be done.
- Have team members support each other.
Whatever the group, organize the work to make the most of each employee’s contribution to the team, bringing employees together whenever appropriate to help one another. As employees learn to rely on each other for help, a more collaborative environment will arise.
- Have team members keep each other apprised of their work.
In project teams, you can have members review the efforts they have completed toward achievement of the team’s mission. In the case of staff members, regular department meetings give you an opportunity to have employees share with one another their accomplishments.
- Don’t forget the package.
There’s no substitute for some genuine team spirit. Create a brand identity for your team to achieve this. Your team identity could be built around an accomplishment or a skill or reputation that bonds the group together.
- Don’t tolerate gossiping, back-stabbing, or tattle-telling.
When we gossip about other employees, or when we allow it to continue unchecked we are signaling that the team is not important to us. When gossip is not permitted or tolerated, employees work together better. Does it mean no one is talking about one another? No, of course not. It’s just not happening at work where all employees easily can be dragged into the fray. Likewise, when we allow employees to tattle to us about what others are doing when we’re not there, what can you do about it? It seems the tale is always accompanied by the phrase, “But don’t tell them I told you.” Tell anyone who wants to tattle there will be no secrets. The same goes for employees who want to backstab another. Tell them they both will be called in for a discussion to air their disagreement. Gossip can turn an environment toxic. If you need to tackle issues with gossip, read our article “Managing Gossip in the Workplace“.
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