When a team is working well together, it’s like nothing can go wrong — everything runs smoothly, projects end up better than you could have hoped, and any setbacks you have seem challenging, but doable. But when a team gets out of sync … everything goes downhill fast. Things start to get lost in the shuffle, communication breaks down, important tasks slip through the cracks, and before you know it, you’re struggling with total chaos. Sound familiar? Try these 5 things to get your team back on the same page fast.
- Create a clear vision
You know what your vision is for the company, team, and project, but your team won’t unless you tell them. So start by getting very clear on your vision and the real reason you do what you do.
For instance, if you have a financial services company, you’re not just selling financial services. You’re giving people peace of mind about their retirement. If you have a catering company, you’re not just providing food — your services make or break important events. Knowing this big why makes it easier to keep employees engaged with their projects, and it helps them love your company. And as one of my favorite quotes from Simon Sinek says, "Employees must love the company before the customers ever will.”
Once you’ve figured your why out, it’s time to break your vision down into specific goals and communicate those to your team. Break it down so it’s clear what part each team member plays in meeting those goals, and answer any questions that come up. This way, you’ll be able to get everyone heading in the same direction, towards the same goals, using the same road map.
- Work together, play together
It’s rare to find a team where everybody naturally pulls in the same direction. But you can foster that sense of teamwork by having people work on non-work projects together. It can be something that contributes to the community, like building a house together for Habitat for Humanity or working a water station at a local marathon; or it can be something a little lighter, like playing a game together. One client even had their team visit the Portland Escape Room — they had a blast and came away a stronger team.
Want a really easy way to implement? Try doing a team builder at the beginning of your team meetings. it will get everyone focused, and will help the team work together. Here is an epic list of great team builders.
- Schedule regular team meetings
It sounds archaic, but team meetings can be a lifesaver if you know how to manage them properly. Make sure you set an agenda before the meeting, and pre-schedule meetings in intervals that work for your business so your team can count on them happening. This is the ideal time to reinforce the vision and focus on team building.
And remember, your meeting doesn’t have to look like a stereotypical, hour long, talking in circles team meeting. Some teams only meet for 15 minutes every Friday, others meet for an hour every month. You could set a timer to ensure your meeting ends on time and is efficient or have a standing meeting - standing meetings are always efficient. Figure out what works for your team — and stick to it!
- Appreciate the good stuff
In so many businesses, the only time employees really hear from their leaders is when things go wrong. But this is discouraging, and it sets up an adversarial relationship between teams and leaders.
So make sure you take the time to appreciate what’s going well with your team, especially if it’s on par with your vision. This could be as simple as saying “thank you” when someone does a really good job, or you could go with something more tangible, like giving Amazon gift cards for a team that’s really knocking it out of the park. One important thing to remember: when you do give positive feedback, make sure it’s specific, timely, and grounded in an example. (More on this here.)
Your team needs to hear from you regularly, so decide how often and in what ways you’ll communicate with them. For example, you may decide to send out a regular Monday morning email to your whole team setting out the goals and agenda for the week, and then have a quick Friday afternoon email, video message, or conference call to wrap up the week.
Or you may decide to base your communication around projects, with a call to start the projects and weekly email check ins. It’s all up to you — but remember, be strategic, not tactical about your communication plan. You don’t want these particular communications to get bogged down in back and forth or detailed discussions. This is more about high level leadership than day-to-day troubleshooting.
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