Is a thriving team one that is profitable and productive? Or is it one where everyone is friends? Ask 100 people, and you might get 100 different answers.
The popular show “The Office” exemplifies this discrepancy well. Michael Scott, manager of the Scranton branch of fictional Dunder Mifflin, figured that as long as his team was laughing, they were thriving. He justified his behavior and antics, no matter how crazy, with the intent of creating a fun workplace. However, the corporate office only viewed the Scranton branch as thriving because they were profitable and outshining other branches. This disparity left the employees stuck in the middle, stressed or often burned out, which is hilarious in a sit-com, not so much in real life.
Sit-coms aside, it is an ongoing challenge for every company and leader to cultivate nurturing cultures and thriving team building. To build diverse and productive teams that are fulfilled in the modern workplace requires vital components that can be overlooked. For a team to be genuinely thriving, all members—leaders and employees—must be willing to work respectfully with one another and strive to create an environment of encouragement, creativity, and empowerment. What does this mean? Put simply, each person needs to advocate for everyone’s success—individually and collectively—not just their own. A difficult endeavor!
Let’s start by exploring a few qualities of thriving teams and then explore three ways to make this a reality in your organization.
What Does a Thriving Team Look Like?
Leadership with a Clear Vision
A thriving team has a lot to do with the leaders and how they inspire their teams. Ensure that your company has a clear vision with a laser-focused purpose. Then, disseminate this vision throughout every level and aspect of your organization: company branding, leadership, teams, employee training, and company culture as well as to your vendors and customers. Clarity of vision with transparent expectations provides the foundation for building authentic leadership while also empowering individuals to help and lead others.
The Well-Being of Employees Is Safeguarded
All employees need to know what it means to be a team player without being burned-out or a people-pleaser. Define this balance early with each team member and even for each project, as the needs can vary widely between leaders and industries. Regardless of the company or industry, make the well-being of employees a cornerstone of your company culture.
Every member of a team should be held accountable to do their part without sacrificing their well-being. This recommendation doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when everyone stretches for a tight timeline or a major initiative. However, if employees are expected to work through lunch as well as breaks and stay late frequently, it’s a recipe for burn-out and a lowered employee retention.
Related Reading: Well-Being Is Contagious (for Better or Worse)
Teams don’t depend heavily on one driven or talented person.
As a leader, maximizing the talent of each member while also keeping them challenged and content is tough. Protecting the well-being of employees also means investing in employees’ professional development. Listen to their ideas to improve teamwork and productivity or how to stay on the edge of your market. (Then act on their feedback if appropriate and if it’s helpful input.) When employees feel heard, they are more likely to support the leadership and have more ownership in their own work.
When team members complain about someone taking over a project, help the employee to speak up directly with the person. If you hear grumblings from more than one person about a team member dominating, that particular employee needs support to collaborate better, and possibly how to delegate to others. Don’t take advantage of people bent on pleasing; some leaders rely too much on people-pleasers.
Thriving Put into Action
Cultivate a Highly Collaborative and Respect-Driven Environment
Collaboration and support encourage higher morale, reduced stress, greater creativity, and increased accountability and productivity. Mutual respect is nonnegotiable among team members. Respect creates tremendous safety and builds trust no matter how great the diversity. This respect standard must be modeled and upheld by managers and leaders acting as the “parents” of the company. Otherwise, respect will break down.
Everyone is committed to each other’s success; therefore, there is more open collaboration. Team members are willing and committed to resolving any issues quickly because they feel empowered to do so. Their voice matters and they feel heard. When leadership isn’t solving all the problems, it helps the bottom line of a company and team.
Results: Once employees are not just working toward their own high performance, recognition, and benefits but are also committed and held accountable to support others’ success, collaboration becomes second nature and the company dramatically benefits from this unity and increased focus.
Related Reading: How to Cultivate Healthy Collaboration and Team
Enhance Communication through Commitment and Effective Feedback
Communication is where many teams struggle, but there is something that helps: commitment. COMMIT to open, honest, and authentic communication between leadership and all members of a team or within departments. The quality of a culture radically depends on this commitment that is backed by actions.
An aspect of communication often avoided is giving constructive feedback. Feedback is essential but can also feel awkward unless it is communicated appropriately. However, once we practice giving and receiving feedback and experience positive results, the process becomes a natural part of a company’s culture. Then employees learn to look forward to the learning and growth that comes from this honest communication. Replacing the fear of reprimands with helpful, honest, and respectful input allows a company to build teams that are more collaborative and fun. Everyone is held responsible for improving teamwork and communication through real-time learning!
Results: When effective feedback is an active ingredient in a company, productivity increases, employee confidence soars, and collaboration thrives. This type of communication will also enhance the stability in a company by lowering training costs and turnover. A win for all!
Related Reading: Good Communication Is Vital for a Successful Business
Develop Internal Motivation in Employees
First, ensure your company’s mission is not solely focused on profits, and hire employees that are motivated by more than bonuses or titles. More than ever, employees (especially Millennials) are driven by finding purpose and development in their work. People are pursuing job development, and they want ongoing interactions with their bosses. They don’t just want a job—they want a great job. Moreover, they desire to be a part of a movement, making a difference in the world.
Give clear guidelines to team members. Extend autonomy to those who have proven themselves as wise leaders to generate a sense of accountability. Promote employees with greater responsibility, influence, and team leadership when they faithfully model the values of your company. By giving these employees opportunities for more significant initiative, you’re rewarding their intrinsic motivation freeing the company from having to supply bigger and bigger “carrots.”
Results: If your team members develop in their jobs and feel a sense of purpose, they are less likely to leave. Less turnover means fewer hiring and training costs. By increasing retention, there is also a better retainment of intellectual property. By hiring and developing employees who exercise intrinsic motivation, there’s synergy in work and on teams, an expanded sense of belonging, and the thrill of being a part of a bigger purpose.
By committing to transparency while focusing on open collaboration, improving communication, and developing your employees’ internal motivations, you too can create genuinely thriving teams that are collaborative and empowered. When employees feel supported, they naturally support the vision and best interest of a company. An added plus is often increased engagement, creativity, and profits.
If you’re ready to enhance teamwork and company culture in your organization and would like coaching or leadership and team training, contact Heartmanity for Business.