We’ve all probably heard enough motivational talks about teamwork to last us a lifetime (remember “There’s no ‘I’ in team?”), but sometimes, familiarity breeds just enough contempt to make us dismiss valuable information that we need to hear. In this case, the word “teamwork” might seem overused; but when it comes to running your own business, it really can’t be stressed enough.
The challenge for business owners is getting employees to understand the true value — not just the rhetoric — of teamwork and motivate them to apply it in everyday practice. From a business standpoint, teamwork fosters a company culture of shared vision, which results in a unified, streamlined operation where everyone is working toward the same goals.
Here are six ways you can engage with your staff to cultivate a company culture of shared vision and unified commitment, while boosting confidence and motivation within your team.
1. Define Teamwork
What do you think of when you hear the word teamwork? More importantly, what do your employees think?
Everyone will have a different answer; and most of these answers will be worth listening to, because they’ll provide the communicative key you need for sharing your vision with — and eliciting commitment from — your employees.
By asking this question, you can engage with your employees one-on-one in a meaningful dialogue on the components of teamwork, what it means for each employee, and why it’s crucial for your business.
2. Learn to Listen
By listening to your employees, you’ll not only gain more of their trust; you’ll also glean valuable information from the people who are working in the front lines of your business every day. Take the time to ask for ideas, suggestions for improvements, and even criticisms (just don’t take them personally).
3. Focus on Accountability
Everyone on your team is accountable — not only to you, but to all the other team members — for his or her actions, job performance, attitude and level of commitment. Employees need to understand that this level of personal responsibility goes deeper than just doing things the right way so the boss won’t get mad.
Accountability isn’t just an ideology; it’s a real, vital part of day-to-day operations, and should be part of each employee’s mindset during every hour of every day.
4. Channel Individual Employee Talents
Your team is made up of employees who are unique individuals, each with a different set of natural talents. By getting to know your employees, you can identify these secondary skills and channel them when you need them. In this way, a good company is like a football team, where each player has a natural talent, and plays in a position that utilizes that talent for the good of the team.
For example, Mary might have a talent for getting things done quickly. If you’re aware of this, you know that it’s a good idea to put Mary on fast turnaround projects with an imminent deadline. Likewise, John is a great listener — very empathetic and likeable. That’s why he’s ideal for working with difficult (or dissatisfied) vendors or clients.
5. Make It Personal
In the workplace, as in other facets of life, people need to know that they’re making a valuable contribution. It’s always a good thing to make your employees feel valued, but confidence starts from within; and your employees won’t truly believe in themselves until they realize how important they are, on an individual basis, to your business.
It’s vital for your employees to understand how everyone’s individual job performance impacts the shared vision of your company. By making it clear how valuable each and every member of your team is, you’ll not only foster confidence; you’ll also inspire trust and commitment.
6. Learn to Trust Your Team
You’ve developed a strong, cohesive team of talented staff members working together as a single unit, motivated by the same goals. Now what should you do?
Learn to let go, that’s what. This is the time to take a deep breath, step back and allow your employees to do the jobs you’ve trained them to do. It’s all a matter of trusting that you’ve sufficiently built up your team’s confidence and taught each employee how to successfully carry out your shared vision. In the end, a vote of confidence in your employees is also a vote of confidence in your training and mentoring methods.
Questions to Consider
How can you ensure you’re keeping your team on track? Ask yourself the questions below:
Can you articulate the vision for your company or team you lead? Is it a shared vision by all team members?
How do you motivate your team to achieve the vision?
Does everyone know their role on the team and how they directly contribute to the shared vision?