Two basic secrets to team member success have been identified in recent studies – and they are as obvious as ‘liking each other’ and ‘sharing similar worldviews’. Obvious maybe, but achieving them is another thing, as many of us know from our workplace experiences.
Teams with low levels of trust or ‘liking’ tend to form sub-groups, cutting satisfaction and performance. But surprisingly, there’s evidence that even if team members don’t like each other much, so long as they share a similar worldview, they can still get the job done.
So on these two counts as a manager it’s important to ensure cliques aren’t allowed to form in your teams, and that team members trust each other and share goals they actively work towards.
Building a team’s emotional intelligence helps it become and remain a cohesive unit. It helps leaders and individual members manage and understand themselves as well as other people.
Winning strategies for managing teams include selecting team members to get the right values mix, as well as the right skills. Use inspiring leadership to win commitment to shared values. Build team skills using training and coaching. Get the team to set ground rules that will guide everyone on what’s acceptable behaviour. Facilitate regular ‘team talks’ that include looking at why we behave the way we do, what motivates or demotivates people, and the usefulness of team diversity even with those shared values.
As projects start up, encourage members to set up processes to reach goals effectively, deal with obstacles and avoid blaming. Deal with conflict as it comes up (not months in), and praise positive team behaviours when you see them (not later when it doesn’t matter!).
And remember that the team that has regular informal get-togethers – even coffee breaks with all included – tends to shine.