Managing a great team takes as much effort on the leader’s side as it does on the team members’, because teamwork is initially facilitated through a leader. This especially rings true for the life sciences industry, where a company may have many experts from different fields working together on the same project.
If you want your employees to work like a team – that means you have to work like a coach. Teamwork is extremely effective in elevating productivity, and I’m talking about truly functioning like a team – not simply working on separate parts of the same project. Managers all want a dream team like we see in the movies or in professional sports, working passionately together towards the same goal. So how do you achieve that?
Know your team.
First, it’s important to understand the work style and teamwork style of each individual in the group. This includes knowing their strengths and weaknesses as an employee. Your team is the sum of its parts, and you need to know the details of each part in order to get it to function properly.
Outline clear roles and goals.
Assign responsibilities to each member according to ability. Each should have clear goals/tasks to achieve based on their strengths and therefore know what their specific role is within the team. However, it’s also important to ensure that everyone knows the big picture goal of the group as well. Give solid deadlines to work towards and make sure the group feels that the deadlines are realistic.
Make interaction mandatory.
Make sure the team meets regularly. Team members should not go off on their own to execute their personal responsibilities and meet when their portion is complete. Problems arise when there isn’t sufficient communication between members. The group should have mandatory meetings or phone calls as often as they deem necessary. They must be interacting and aware of the progress of each member. This also ensures less catch-up when presenting their progress to the leader or supervisor.
Encourage social activities.
Teams work better when the members know each other well and feel comfortable voicing personal opinions and ideas. To encourage a sense of group belonging and camaraderie, push the team to schedule a meeting outside of the office at a coffee shop or a restaurant for lunch. Or go further and plan team social events outside of work for them to interact on a personal and casual level. This is a significant aspect of team building.
Support your team and provide them the tools they need. Don’t leave them on their own to fend for themselves, show that you want them to succeed. Remember, as a leader you are just as much a part of the team as they are. Be accountable and ask how you can help them achieve their goals. Be positive, especially when your team is struggling or frustrated, and help discuss solutions.
Listen to your team members with full attention – showing that you care about their concerns and their growth as employees. Ask to hear their thought process in order to give them an opportunity to explain themselves and fully understand their collective thinking. If they have an issue, ask the most important question – “Why?” And guide them to find answers on their own as a team. After getting a solid answer, review with the team what was discussed and how they can change their approach according to what was learned. Encourage this same practice amongst themselves as well.
Reward good performance.
Acknowledge a job well done in order to give a sense of meaning and accomplishment to the team. This will boost their energy and push them to continue their hard work. Whether you acknowledge their work with praise, prizes, or simply announcements to the company – these gestures will drive them to want to succeed.
Encourage positive communication to identify problems.
Address conflict as soon as you sense issues arising. Discuss with the team in order to get to the root of the conflict and figure out a solution together. If the issue is between team members, provide clear and concise steps for them to follow in order to resolve it. This will make the team feel empowered to solve issues proactively and feel that no one is personally being blamed. After a mistake or issue has been resolved, revisit the issue positively and see what everyone has learned from it.
Managing employees like a team requires a skilled and experienced leader, meaning it takes practice and hard work. Fortunately, the effort that is put into team building is rewarding in many ways, including increased productivity, innovation, and morale. Remember, building a dream team in business first requires a dream team leader.
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