Work Better Together Series explores the benefits of team wellbeing in organisations as well as looking into how managers and employees can cultivate a positive work environment. Episode 3 looks at how managers can develop team spirit and how this leads to team wellbeing.
Story: The Mad Client
Norbert was recruited to take the team's competence up a notch. Being young, backed up by solid qualifications and having a CV that showcased references from large organisations, Norbert seemed the perfect candidate for the job. Yet only after six months Norbert left a team that was frustrated at his approach whilst his self esteem fell on the ground.
The issue was that Norbert was an introvert whilst the rest of the team were extroverts. To make the matters worse the rest of the team dealt with problems by thrashing them through very verbal (and almost aggressive fashion) whereas Norbert was shy and very sensitive. Having two completely different ways of dealing with problems, both sides ended up blaming each other for not caring for each other.
Lesson: Values Are As Important As Competence
Although competence is very important for any job, whether a person is fits in the team's or organisation's values is at times more important than competence. I worked with companies who recruited people based on values and then helped their employees built their competence. The result was that there was a greater synergy, less conflict and less need for management to deal with petty issues.
Cook (2009) argues that competence and technical ability are only half of what is needed for a team to bring in results. Values is the other half as it shapes the daily behaviour of people at work. As technical competence is usually logical, it is easier to understand so people tend to prioritise it. This results in people lagging behind, losing motivation & leaving.
Implications: Leader Needs To Empower
Values are the basis for all motivation and without understanding it people do not feel part of the team. When a team does not have a unifying quality, people argue and fight as they would have conflicting values. One role of the leader is that of creating a common set of values under which people can follow.
As a team is forming, Dyer (2007) argues that a leader's role is to educate the team on the values & technical expertise required. However unless this dynamic changes over time, the team will remain ineffective. By empowering people, sense of belonging grows and people's motivation increases. Here the leader takes the role of a facilitator of results.
Theory: Team Cohesion Leads To Team Spirit
As a manager or leader sets out to build team spirit, they need to realise that it is their responsibility to take the initiative. To foster empowerment in a way that the team is able to manage itself, the leader needs to provide education on how the team can achieve this sustainable and without stressing the team members.
The following are the elements that a leader needs to foster for team spirit:
Team Identity: by being clear about the purpose of the team is and what role each team member will play in it, people will resonate with the team.
Psychological Safety: by creating an environment where people feel accepted even if they make mistakes creates an safe space for people to be themselves.
Team Cohesion: developing a sense of belonging through clear direction, good team relationships and excellent conflict management skills.
Team Potency: develop confidence and belief that the team can be effective in what it is meant to be doing.
Group Drive: through working as a unit, the team starts feeling as if it is one body and the team starts supporting and managing itself more (Clegg, 2014).
Action: Want Help With Developing Team Spirit?
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Cook. (2009). BUilding a High Performance Team. IT Governance Publishing.
Clegg. (2014). Smells like team spirit: Opening a paradoxical black box. Human Relation, 287-310.
Dyer, D. J. (2007). Team Building: Proven Strategies for Improving Team Performance. Wiley.