More than anything, people need to feel that they are part of the team they are on. When people feel like they are working towards something bigger than themselves, good change can take place. Until then, individuals are on defense, because they feel excluded, and nobody likes to feel excluded.
So, what should leaders focus on to cultivate teamwork in their workplaces? Here are three questions to help you think if you are leading a team, or just a group of individuals working independently:
1. Do you and your team actually know each other?
I’ve both worked on teams and led teams, and one thing remains true: truly knowing each other develops a deeper communication, a deeper understanding where each person is coming from, and the ability to be in sync with each other as ideas are shared. When people don’t know each other, one or two people usually dominate the conversation, and walking around on eggshells is the natural response from others in the group until some sort of relationship is built with the rest of the team.
2. Do you trust your team?
A good way to know if you trust your team is to decide if you feel they have your back through the thick and thin. If you don’t, then it may be good for you to go back to question number one, and begin to create relationships with other people on your team. When trust is present, people know that you aren’t out to get them, but rather you have their best interests in mind as well. Dare I say that people on teams can actually be friends with each other?
3. Does your team feel appreciated?
Throwing money at an issue in the form of a raise, or giving people more vacation time aren’t the only ways to show a team that you appreciate them. Although both of those things are wonderful benefits, what if you could show appreciation every single day? When is the last time you praised the people on your team in public? When is the last time you truly cared about their well-being? And when is the last time you did something with them outside of work? Making people feel that they are appreciated reinforces the fact that they belong.