6 Steps to Building Happier Teams
One of the big challenges of running a successful company is keeping individual employees happy, productive, engaged, and working towards the greater good of the company. However, it’s not enough to just cater to your employees’ separate needs – you also have to take a step back and think about how (and if!) all of your employees are able to work together in teams healthily and happily.
There’s a saying called “many hands make light work” and that’s rooted in the idea that when we work together in teams, we can accomplish so much more than what we can individually. And so, building happier teams and fostering healthy teamwork not just a “nice-to-have” – it’s the real secret to running a successful company.
Here are 6 steps to take to build happier teams in your organization:
1. Create one vision
A common leadership mistake is taking a top-down approach to mission, vision, and company values, in which each is established by founders or C-Suite executives and then passed down to employees with an expectation of buy-in and assimilation without question. Dmitry Shamis over at Hubspot provides more realistic insight for leaders working to gain buy-in from their teams on a unified team vision: “If you want people to buy into your vision, ask for their help in crafting it.”
When you bring your team together and allow them to envision their future, establish their own dreams and goals in alignment with the organization’s mission, vision, and core values, and decide how to best achieve them, you promote both engagement and healthy teamwork.
2. Establish clear goals and roles
Once your team has been given the opportunity to create their vision, don’t just stop there. Make sure each member of the team understands their role in achieving team goals and how their role impacts the team and its outcomes so that they’re more connected to it, rather than seeing it as a one-time exercise. Team members who understand their roles are better able to recognize and develop their weaknesses, leverage their strengths, and overcome barriers to achievement.
3. Create a culture of accountability
In the most successful teams, each team member takes accountability for his or her role in the teams’ successes and failures, especially when it comes to conflicts and miscommunications. Leaders can nurture accountability in their teams by using Cy Wakeman’s approach, presented in Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace: when approached by a team member with complaints, the leader asks, “How might you have contributed to this problem?” and then, “What can you do to help?” This prevents the blame game and promotes positive, successful working relationships.
4. Make time for team-building
As a company, you’re likely under a lot of pressure to constantly increase productivity, meet goals and deadlines, troubleshoot issues and basically keep everything from falling apart. It’s no wonder team-building often falls by the wayside among other priorities in many companies.
But team-building should be a priority.
Your team members and the relationships they build amongst each other give life to the culture and work environment on a day-to-day basis and it impacts their ability to do good work, so it’s huge misstep when companies don’t carve out some time for team building and team bonding. Reserve time on your team members’ calendars and refuse to budge; whether it’s 15 minutes a day, an hour a week, or a half a day each quarter, it’s imperative that you spend time workshopping, discussing, encouraging, rebuilding, and connecting with one another and with their shared goals and vision in the company.
5. Be a good example
Practice what you preach and be an example that your employees can follow. Positive habits like showing up for work, being engaged, encouraging work-life balance, sending employees home when they’re physically or emotionally drained, and really listening when they ask you to don’t go unnoticed.
But you don’t have to be perfect – demonstrate what it means to be a team member in your own authentic way: roll up your sleeves when the workload requires it, cheer from the sidelines, and admit when you’ve made a mistake. Empathetic leaders build empathetic teams, and empathetic teams forgive one another and start fresh each morning.
6. Laugh a little
Here’s a secret: it’s okay to laugh at work. In fact, there are huge benefits of laughter including stress relief and improving your long-term mood, so the more the better! The way to use this fact to your benefit when it comes to building happier teams is to aim to be generally welcoming and open to laughter and relaxed conversations in the workplace on a regular basis (within reason, of course). You certainly don’t want your office to become a circus full of laughter and so distracting that it’s hard to focus in, but you also don’t want your employees to feel so stifled that they can’t crack a joke and have a laugh with each other when the chances arise.