What do we mean by a team? A team is different from a group, which can be defined as people getting together as they have similar interests, a team is about sharing an objective and requires pulling together to achieve it. Your 'team' may come in many forms - it could be at work, within your department or your team could consist of friends/family. Maybe networks that support your business, those people who you support and those who support you to achieve your goals.
So why build relationships with others? Why be part of a team? How does that help us in personal and business life? Why is it important to reach out to others?
When things are going well we like to contact others and share good news. In times of challenge again we seek support and reasurance from people around us whether friends, family or colleagues. It feels good to pull together for a common goal with others. We all have different strengths and skills and to bring these together means we are more productive, motivated, confident, energised, inspired and more likely to perform to our optiumum.
There is evidence to show that human beings are naturally social creatures who require a balanced mix of three main ingredients: achievement, enjoyment and closeness with others.
Think back to a time when you had an event to arrange, a project at work, a new marketing endeavour, an exhibition to sort out, a book to write, a dance performance or a sporting event. How did being in a team help with you achieve your purpose and what made it a supportive team?
Interestingly enough when asked most people will say that one of the factors that matters most in a work environment is the people around them. You know that expression 'people have my back'. Those who are pulling together with you towards a common interest. Think back to different workplaces and you will probably find that this is true for you. If you feel part of a team you are more likely to enjoy your work, want to turn up to that network event, meet up with other trainers to plan collaborative work, wish to say yes to team events and find meetings rewarding. This is why it is most important in leadership to establish shared vision and goals with all staff members involved. It is good for management too as effective supportive teams means staff are more likely to stay in role and remain in post even when the going can get tough. In the case of small businesses or self employment it can feel quite isolating when you might be making all the decisons alone, you may be able to self-coach or self motivate but there will come a time when you will need other's support. It might be to obtain CPD, directional decision making, finance, book keeping or have a team for expert advice. Luckily nowadays there are many supportive networks I can guarantee that all small companies can establish networks and create their own communities to form a 'team' that can be mutually supportive in their work environment.
So how do we create effective teams, how can we make our work the type of place that encourages supportive relationships?
When I first started delivering groups in 2000 to become an accredited facilitator I attended training that included Tuckman's (65) model of team/group development. His stages of development consist of 'forming', 'storming', 'norming' and 'performing'. There is a life cycle.
At the start when a team 'forms' the person in charge makes most of the decisions, then there is more experimentation as others assert their ideas and the team may have disagreements and this is defined as the 'storming stage'. At the 'norming stage' the team feel more comfortable that they will be heard and are more able to raise issues that might be risky, express their feelings and come to agreements more easily. At the 'performing' stage the team are using energy and respective abilities to good effect, recognising and trusting each other's strengths. It is at this stage that there is a higher flexiblity of approach to problem solving, conflicts are resolved and there is a general feeling of increased creativity, higher tolerance and trust.
I have listed some of the ingredients below that make up effective teams, see if you agree with these and can think of whether your teams have these and if not think about what you can do to have a positive impact to bring them about. You might need a little help with this as it is not always easy to see intereactions objectively and recognising individual traits can take experience and practice and that is where I come in as a coach/trainer/facilitator.
Open and honest communication - we don't always agree with one another and being open and honest about how we think, feel, want to behave will increase trust and increase team cohesion and make the team more productive. Establishing a safe and respectful group ethos for sharing ideas is essential to this.
Conflicts are resolved - we can have different points of view but a healthy team will feel they are in a safe space to explore differences of opinions and resolve disagreements using skills such as negotiation and compromise. When people get together there will be different agendas and ideas and a problem solving approach to conflict resolution demonstrates a team working well. It provides a safe space for disagreement - views are valued even if different.
Decison making is a collaborative process - so everyone gets a say. If you are pulling together as a team then it is about listening and giving a voice to ideas and the opinions of everyone, even if there is disagreement a healthy team gets to be collaborative. This includes having space for feedback on what is working well and what people would like to see done differently, being prepared to compromise and share success.
Trust is in place - in order to develop trust there has to be a level of confidentiality and guarding each other's confidences. So if people are disclosing how they feel, don't turn it into gossip that is heard later on down the pub for instance - keep what is said in the room in the room and get team agreement on this!
Understanding differences - knowing the influencing styles and learning styles in the team can be helpful - it might be that time is an issue if you mainly work with those with active learning styles who like to discuss things and move on - so work to that agenda. However if your team includes those with more reflective learning styles there might require more discussion and action points might take will take longer to agree. This would then impact on meeting time and the decision making process.
Respect is shown - even if you don't agree it is about recognising others have a right to view points. One of the main things that people really dislike is when they do not feel they are listened to, so the skill of active listening is really important to have a team which operates with an ethos of respect. Ensuring that each participant actively listens to each other by feeding back what they have heard, showing with non verbal and verbal communication that they are listening and taking on board the viewpoints is paramount.
So we all have strengths and weakness and if we build relationships to have effective teams we can pull all of the strengths and skills together to achieve so much more than if we are on our own.
We will have more sense of achievement, that all essential closeness with others and hopefully this will also lead to a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment.
I hope this blog has been of interest to you. If you are are interested in doing more in this I deliver training and team coaching on how to build effective relationships which covers: enhancing conflict resolution; negotiation skills; team building; increasing mutual trust and respect for enhanced commnication; active listening, open and honest communication and how to manage conflicts that arise in a positive way to have more effective professional relationships. Also available at your place of work or 1;1 coaching personally.
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