Team-building strategies can help you align your workforce more effectively. Yet for business leaders, finding the right people and helping them work together efficiently can be a challenge. The latest research and case studies suggest that it takes more than trust-falls and team dinners; instead, companies have to look beyond gimmicks and create the conditions for collaborations, focus on personalities, and be prepared with clear roadmaps for handling conflict. Here are four strategies you can focus on to help your teams get more accomplished.
Focus on Enabling Conditions
Recent research has highlighted that the conditions of the workplace may be one of the most important aspects for building effective teams. The Harvard Business Review notes that enabling factors lead to great teams, including:
- A compelling direction
- A shared mindset
- Strong structure
- Supportive context
Finding ways to build the conditions for success include making sure everyone is clear about their roles, creating a cohesive structure, and working to build unity around clear direction and values.
Look Beyond Skills to Personalities
Having the right mix of skills and expertise on your team is critical — and when you've done the necessary strategic planning, it's possible to get the right complementary skillsets for fast, effective execution. However, as the Harvard Business Review notes, personalities are a critical part of the equation, and conflict can often be the result of personality clashes. Focus on the following areas of alignment:
- Do team members have high levels of emotional intelligence? Could investing in this area improve performance?
- Emotional stability and intellectual curiosity
- Do the general personality traits of members align, or at least complement, each other? For instance, a person who loves to follow rules and processes is going to struggle with a team dynamic that's more focused on innovation or has an ambiguous structure.
Dealing with Difficult Situations
Conflict is a natural part of the territory of managing and building teams. Team-building strategies can help lay the foundations to minimize conflict, but it's important to have ground rules in place for healthy conflict resolution. Some strategies that can help include:
- Establish baseline guidelines for healthy engagement and respectful disagreement, including things such as yelling, name-calling, and gossiping as unacceptable.
- Ensure that each person's concern and perspective are thoroughly heard.
- Come back to the underlying goal, and focus on what you're trying to achieve. Use that, rather than emotions, to determine the best path forward.
- Work to resolve any underlying tension before closing out the discussion.
Align Everyone Around a Shared Purpose
One of the most effective strategies for everything from building a shared mindset to resolving conflict is to align your team around a shared purpose. What are you trying to accomplish? How does the team's role help the company's bigger objective? Are there social outcomes or bigger impacts that you can point to? Give your team a deep dive into this, and further cultivate alignment by helping each person see how their role contributes. For example, in a marketing department, the role of a content marketing campaign may be to educate customers on better health. The copywriter creates content that educates people. The email campaign manager ensures that the information gets distributed. The technology person helps deliver on the company's promise of excellent customer service. The clearer people are on why their role matters, the more likely they are to do a great job.
Team-building strategies can help you create a thriving, collaborative team that gets tasks done quickly, effectively, and with minimal friction. From setting a clear agenda to looking for personalities that will get along, it's possible to invest strategically for harmony and productivity as you choose which people to put together on a team.