No matter what type of organization you work in, team building matters. A strong team can remain focused even when the workload is higher than usual or financial problems mean everyone has to work longer for a pay raise. It means better coordination of tasks and better utilization of talent. In a large organization, however, it’s impossible to be there for all your employees—it may be difficult even to address them all at once—so a subtler approach may be necessary.
Over the past two decades, the idea that competition is the most effective way to motivate people in the workplace has become more and more prevalent—and has corresponded with an escalating rate of stress-related illness associated with work. Although some people can be strongly motivated by competition, it soon becomes depressing for those who keep finding themselves at the bottom of the heap—intense competition does not necessarily reward those who are doing the most diligent and important work. A healthier way to motivate people is to set team goals that don’t involve competing with other teams, and to adjust those goals so that each employee has something meaningful to contribute. Individual team managers can take responsibility for this, and their success can be measured using metrics that take into account employee satisfaction levels.
An inclusive approach
Team building is about making individual employees feel valued and valuable as part of the group. Rooting out workplace bullying is essential, as is helping employees work around difficulties they may have, such as those caused by disabilities or care responsibilities outside of the workplace. Providing people with clear roles, whether ongoing or project-based, helps with this, and it is more important to give employees the chance to use their talents than to raise their status. Good work must be rewarded, even if it is simply with praise, and training programs should be available to help employees develop further—showing them that the company is willing to invest time and resources in them. Rather than introducing team-bonding events that some people may feel uncomfortable with, use simple techniques like celebrating birthdays in the workplace, providing shared snacks and putting comfortable furniture in break rooms to encourage a relaxed social atmosphere.
A shared vision
Although your business will operate more successfully and employees will feel more secure with a clear hierarchy of responsibilities in place, a successful team works in two directions. As Sukanto Tanoto has shown, giving everybody the opportunity to contribute ideas means that the business can grow stronger by utilizing insights from any level, while employees feel more committed to something that they have contributed to. In this way, the company’s success comes to represent their own success. It is then down to the company owner to articulate the vision that employees have helped to form, and to lead the team. No matter how large the organization, employees can be excited about working together when they see themselves moving toward a shared goal.