December 28, 2017

4 Steps to Consider for Healthier Teaming

by Jordan Epperson

Making time for reflection has been a fruitful exercise for our team

 

We recently took time to interview a handful of our folks on the topic of healthy teaming. What initially started as a marketing project, ended up being an opportunity for us to reconnect with some of the underlying currents that inform the way we operate within teams in our organization. It was great to reflect and remember some of the high and low points of the past year, and to refocus on steps that we have found to be important as we work toward healthier teaming.

In the words of Samuel Johnson, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” Taking this time to reflect has proved to be inspiring and motivating; it’s made looking forward to the new year a hopeful experience.

Here are four basic points that we’ve been reflecting on, and that you may wish to consider as you work to craft healthier and more effective teams.

 

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Choose the right people.

When building a team, people often lean toward the Papa John’s mentality, “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.” The common instinct here is to build a team with the “best” people by selecting individuals with the most advanced skill sets. However, for building a healthy team, an appropriate amendment may be, “The Right Ingredients = The Right Pizza.” When choosing to fill roles within your team or organization, the “best” people are not always those who possess the necessary skills, but are also those who can contribute to a healthy team dynamic.

Without a doubt, individual skills are a necessary component for building a successful team. However, at times it may be beneficial to sacrifice skill for fit. This doesn’t have to be a hindrance for the success of the team. In fact, having the right people in the right places can perpetuate a culture of growth that celebrates the successes of the individual and inspires growth among the team.

A team that grows together, succeeds together.

 

Culture is the style. Community is the substance.

In the past several years, many organizations have been commended and celebrated for their ability to create strong company cultures. We all have heard of (and admire) organizations like Zappos, Google, and Pixar; companies that have pioneered and championed powerful cultures. As the culture trend continues to expand, what was once an anomaly is now becoming a standard, embraced by organizations of multiple sizes across multiple industries.

Building a culture provides a platform for creating common rallying points like norms, traditions, and ideas. It can make a company more attractive to desired employees, while propelling individuals and teams toward successful results. Ultimately though, culture is a style—a commitment made by individuals to celebrate and add value to the corporate identity. To be sustainable however, culture must be supported and supplemented by a commitment made by individuals to celebrate and add value to one another—a commitment to community.

Community is the mark of a healthy and sustainable team or organization. It enriches the cultural values, norms, and traditions embraced by a group of people. Community is the platform on which individuals build a desire for serving and adding value to others by intentionally investing in and caring for one another.

It’s easy to mistake culture for community. Culture is flashy and easy to see. But over time, a stylistic and unique cultural identity can fade if there is no fundamental support from a growing community within. It’s vitally important to have equal parts style and substance.

Culture and community go hand in hand.

 

Trust is More Than a Buzzword.

On the subject of healthy teaming, trust is a popular topic, but it’s important to create habits of revisiting and evaluating the level of trust within your team. Trust upholds and envelops the way people relate to each other and can dictate the way work is accomplished.

Trust within a team sets the stage for people to identify and combat weaknesses while leveraging and developing strengths in a way that benefits the growth of the individual, and the success of the team. Trust enables a team to move with agility. It empowers delegation and equips a team to work effectively and efficiently.

Trust is more than simply anticipating that tasks will be accomplished, projects will be effective, or that people will follow through. Trust is also a commitment, made by all, to seek the best interests of those around them. It informs how teams plan and execute work, and can have valuable implications in both personal and professional relationships.

It can be a powerful thing for the members of a team or organization to be committed to trust.

 

Establish a Common Purpose.

Establishing a common purpose is an important and unifying component to building a healthy team that works and lasts. It provides a centering point for alignment and direction; it informs decisions, fuels morale, and creates momentum. A shared team purpose provides a sense of harmony and unifies the unique and individual strengths of team members within. It allows individual skills and strengths to grow and mature, providing the team with a greater probability of accomplishing effective and meaningful results.

Every team, no matter the level or size, has a purpose. As projects, daily responsibilities, and the bane of meetings pile up, it’s important to keep the purpose and vision visible. Revisiting and reaffirming team purpose reminds people of why they do what they do and propels a team toward accomplishing more together.

 

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Take time to reflect on your team’s successes and failures over the past year, and keep these 4 things in mind as you work to build rhythms for successful teaming.

For more of our thoughts on healthy teaming and leadership, check out some of our previous blog posts!

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