There are a few jobs that are truly solitary, while the majority involve teams. Certain professions are more team orientated than other jobs. Teachers usually teach their own classes, but all the teachers form a team together. Although being in a team does not mean it automatically operates as one. After all, a team is formed by individuals who have their own ideas and opinions that maynot always agree with one another. Yet, in order not to derail as a team, it is crucial for the individuals to get along to a certain degree.
There are many ways to improve team spirit. However, there is rarely a single strategy to increase or improve the team as a whole, so where to start?
Foremost, it is important to trust the members. Trust cannot be created overnight, but it can be built by following these five main points.
Integrity: Follow up on promises, tell the truth, be forthcoming with information, and offer sincere apologies (no buts –a ‘but’ nullifies the apology).
Communicate about vision: It needs to be apparent to all members what the organisation is working towards; without a clear goal, finding support among the members will be slim.
Equality: Treat each other as equals regardless of their position. Whether someone is a part-timer or a full-timer; an old warhorse or rookie should not matter alone, because everybody’s opinion matters. Treating people aloofly will create a wall between members.
Shared goals: When everyone is working towards the same goal instead of personal goals, trust will be the result.
Do what is right:Regardless of personal risk, do what is right for the team.
Besides trusting the other members, it helps when they understand each other. Not only on work-related topics, but also on personal matters. Understanding others makes it easier to relate to them, which willcreate a workplace that considers peoples’ personalities. This also helps in preventing misunderstandings.
I have a colleague who can come across as somewhat chaotic, which sometimes affects my own work too. At first, it annoyed me, yet as I learnt about her circumstances, the sloppiness made sense. Knowing the situation, I can act accordingly instead of being annoyed.
Establishing trust and understanding is only possible when the members communicate. This sounds easy but it is often the most problematic part of team-building. In order to create a well operating team, it is crucial that the environment for the members is open and is safe to speak one’s mind. Poor communication can easily result in misunderstandings, assumptions and internal conflict. The atmosphere will turn frigid and difficult.
Everyone communicates differently, by identifying the different styles of the members, communicating will become easier and meetings will become less vexing. There are several takes on communication styles, some identify three, four or five different styles. The one we use during our trainings focuses on four main styles: analytical, intuitive, functional, and personal. (For more information see the article on Forbes
.)Of course, no one fits in just one particular style, but often one style is more present than the other three. Understanding the style of the team can clarify why some people always end up in heated discussions, while others seem hardly involved.
There are all kinds of different activitiesto improve these aspects. Some activities will appeal more than others. Some people will be up for discussions while others prefer games and sports activities.
During my last team-building day, we started with a quiz.Everyone had prepared a picture that represented their self. The pictures were numbered and stuck to the walls of the location we had hired. We formed smaller groups and each group had to decide which picture belonged to whom. After 15 minutes, we handed in the results. Each colleague stood up when his or her picture was up for identification and explained why he or she had chosen the picture. This way we all learnt something about each other. In most cases, I learnt something I did not yet know.
The second part was more work-related. We stand anddiscuss several work-related topics. (Most of my colleagues found this part a bit boring.)We wrapped the day up by going out for dinner.
Teamwork is not something that is easily improved. Activities can be a fun method, but are only successful when the members trust and understand each other to a certain extent. Communication plays a vital role in this. Poor communication will lead to misunderstanding and can cause distrust among the members. Understanding each other’s communication styles also helps in creating a workable atmosphere. By working on these aspects the overall team spirit will improve. Cecile Koster
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