A supervisor’s worst nightmare is walking into a team meeting filled with arguing, apathetic, or inconsiderate employees. When a team is dysfunctional, both the company’s culture and bottom line suffer. Successful teams are made of members who are purposeful in their interactions, mindful of behavioral differences, and try to communicate effectively with each other. It’s a managers job to focus on team development.
These eight tips will strengthen and unify even the most dysfunctional workplace teams.
1. Schedule regular open meetings.
When communicating with team members through e-mail, text, instant message, and other forms of digital media, the meanings of messages can be easily misconstrued. The best team interaction often takes place in open, face-to-face meetings. In this type of setting, team members will both hear the words of your intended communication and the tone of voice you use while giving it.
2. Use appropriate body language.
The look on your face can say more than a thousand words. For instance, when a team member wears a scowl on his or her face while listening to a fellow employee’s ideas, the interaction between the two people will likely be lackluster. Using positive, body language conveys interest, sincerity, and cooperation to team members. Examples of positive, body language include:
- Make eye contact
- Give thumbs up
- Nod or show that you are actively listening to what they have to say
- Give high fives, fist bumps, or shake hands
3. Speak simply.
When addressing team members, don’t attempt to wow them with your impressive vocabulary. Speaking with simple words and phrases will improve the likelihood of effectively communicating your message while decreasing the probability of appearing like a show-off. There’s nothing worse than having to Google a word you are not familiar with.
4. Utilize visuals.
Some of the members on your team might learn better when listening to a lecture. Other employees may comprehend new concepts more easily after looking at visuals. To accommodate a variety of different learning styles, create informative visuals to display when giving a presentation at a team meeting. Also, understanding the behavioral pattern of your team members will ensure you address certain needs, like preferring to read information before meeting as a group to discuss something.
5. Value every team member’s ideas.
Effective teams contain team members who value each other’s ideas. If team members are belittled or ignored after offering input, they will likely stop engaging in team discussions and other activities. When this occurs, collaboration is stifled. Some team members are not naturally driven to initiate conversation. Taking the time to understand who is driven to talk things through versus those who is not will allow you to make sure everyone is given appropriate airtime.
6. Establish ground rules for the team.
Establishing ground rules for a team will encourage order, efficiency, and healthy communication at meetings. Every member of the team should have a voice in the rule creation process. Rules should be agreed on by consensus. A few rules that might improve interaction among team members include:
- Every team member will arrive at meetings on time
- Each team member is allowed to offer suggestions and provide ideas
- Only one team member will speak at any given time
7. Encourage debate.
When team members are afraid to disagree with one another, they might blindly make important decisions without feeling confident about them. In this type of environment, only one or two team members might be responsible for making most, if not all, of the team decisions. Healthy debates inspire creativity and collaborative brainstorming. Keep in mind that in order to feel comfortable engaging in debate, your team has to be comfortable with each other. Regular team building exercises may be helpful to make people more comfortable and trusting enough to debate without fear of offending anyone.
8. Show appreciation.
People respond better to courtesy than they react to impoliteness. Showing appreciation makes team members feel like they matter. Expressing gratitude, even for small acts, creates goodwill. Examples of displaying appreciation to team members include:
- Congratulating a team member for developing a great idea for a new project
- Thanking a team member for finishing an assignment before a deadline
- Thanking team members for taking the time to listen to a presentation
Whether on the call-center floor, in a restaurant kitchen, or at a corporate meeting, the power of the team is greater than that of the individual. However, the mere existence of a team in an org chart certainly doesn’t call for efficiency. Ground-breaking teams are staffed with members who know how to successfully and respectfully communicate, challenge, and reward each other. Peer recognition helps build trust on teams.
Create better workplace interactions with PI.
For more resources on how to best interact with your team members at work, check out PI’s management tools. This growing collection of tools allows managers and employees to easily understand workplace behaviors, be more self-aware, work better together, and make everyday workplace interaction more purposeful.
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