Organizational leaders are committed to optimizing their resources and maximizing their return on their investment. As employee salary expenses are often the largest investment in any enterprise, creating a strong team culture is simply smart business. Empowering your employees to collaborate and innovate leverages their ability to act as a team.
Work cultures in which people focus on only their piece of the puzzle lead to silo mentality and ultimately breed inefficiency. When teammates focus on each other’s limitations and detriments —and jockey for authority or power—they miss opportunities to make the organization better. This need to be ‘better than’ decreases collaboration and limits innovation. It is a recipe for stagnation and conflict—neither which drive long term results.
Leaders seeking to repair an absence of trust and inspire a high-performance work culture should follow seven steps: identify the purpose, select a leader, establish rules, select players, set the level, plan, and track progress.
1. Identify the Purpose
People must understand the reason they are doing things. Once the purpose of the team is crystalized and goals are clearly outlined, the leader must connect the dots for people to see how they connect to the team’s purpose. Communicating an inspiring vision and mapping what success looks like is a foundational element for getting a group of people geared up to work in unison.
2. Select a Leader
Although the team’s leader does not have to be the person who invents its purpose, it does need to be the person who accepts the responsibility for shepherding and guiding the team to success. The leader’s job is to be there for the team. The best leaders select the right people, inspire them toward a vision, then get out of the way during the planning stage—unless they are specifically asked for guidance.
3. Establish Rules
People need to know what is expected from them, and understand where the boundaries are regarding decision-making, autonomy, and performance. Giving people the rules of the game before they agree to play allows them to opt in or out of the team and the game. Advanced clarity of expectations also reduces unnecessary problems, reduces ambiguity and confusion, and serves to mitigate poor performance and unwanted turnover on the team.
4. Select the Players
Whether you are building an enterprise or a team of people to accomplish a project, it is crucial that you select the right people for the right roles for the right reasons. When people are engaged, they have a strong desire to bring value—to be contributors. They enjoy the type of work they are doing and can connect their work to the bigger picture. The best team dynamics happen when there is a variety of people bringing their uniqueness to the team. Beyond competencies and skills, it’s important to consider unique traits that each team member brings to the table and how those traits can be leveraged for optimal creativity and innovation.
5. Set the Level
Level-setting allows each member of the team a new opportunity to begin again. During a level set, team members explore their limiting beliefs and barriers to working with others in a productive and effective manner and do the necessary work to unpack those factors that get in the way. Even the most effective, astute, and self-aware people discover limits that were previously hidden from their conscious view. The team lays the path for the best way to work together, resolve personality conflicts, and overcome internal challenges. At the completion of the level set, the team creates a collective possibility that is inspiring to each and every member.
The best approach for a leader during team planning is to be open to questions, guidance, and inspiration. Leaders who get too involved with planning create teams that are dependent on the leader and lack creativity. If leaders notice a problem with the plan, they should ask questions that inspire team members to think critically and resolve the issue on their own.
7. Track Progress
When people are aware of milestone meetings and rely on regular feedback it reduces their uncertainly and unnecessary stress. Leaders who explain methods of organization and define criteria for low, moderate, and high momentum give teams an opportunity to self-regulate, correct, and celebrate as they see fit. Scheduling regular team updates gives the members a structure they can count on while providing them the freedom to work independently.