October 3, 2016

Creating Community Part 2 – Time Together


Last week we explored the central role that a Powerful Purpose plays in creating community. This week we will cover an often overlooked asset to team dynamics – Time Together.

In a recent study, the Gallup organization found that the average employee in the United States works nearly 50 hours per week.  For many of us, it seems as though we spend more time with our workplace teams than with our families!  If this is true for you, you may be thinking you spend more than enough time with your team.  But do you actually spend quality time connecting with those on your team?  Time Together should be more about quality than quantity.  Team life can become eclipsed by the immediacy of the next report, the next meeting, or the needs of the next client.  We must be intentional in building strong teams—teams who take time to really get to know each other.

Let’s look at a few ways we can find meaningful Time Together:

  1. Create space – You have to create opportunities for people to connect. Monthly breakfasts to celebrate birthdays, intentional “catch up” time at the beginning of your weekly staff meetings, recurring team gatherings after work—these are some ways you can promote deeper connections within your team. Whatever means you choose, be intentional and consistent.
  2. Pay for the time – Have you ever thought of paying your team for spending Time Together? If you want to make sure that people are involved and see the value connecting to one another, pay them to be there.  This may mean planning hours more carefully in a work week or planning budgets to include hours spent at a weekend team cookout.  Paying your team for the time spent in this endeavor shows them the value you place on spending quality Time Together.
  3. Make it meaningful – Time Together is about quality time. The goal is to know and be known.  You must be willing to both share your life and ask about theirs.  Find out about people’s lives away from the office.  Ask about their spouses and kids.  What do they like to do in their free time?
  4. Have fun – Time Together should be fun. The focus is on enjoying each other and connecting at a deeper level.

Some of the ideas listed above may seem counterintuitive.  It may be difficult to imagine how to incorporate these ideas into your workplace.  Just pick a place to start and follow through.  Intentional leads to unintentional.  What once needed a plan will become automatic. As the leader, if you will commit to being intentional, you can begin to create a culture of Time Together.  People will begin to spend time together in unscheduled, unpaid, and unintentional ways.  Your team and your organization will begin to change as people connect more often and more deeply.

By Russell Sarratt

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