In a kitchen and bath firm, we first learn about design, products, marketing, selling and finance. We tend to neglect the fact that, at the very core, organizations are about people and the relationships they develop, the teamwork that makes individuals into a community and motivates them to do more. This month, I want to focus on the benefits of teamwork and what you can do to inspire and develop the motivational power of teams.
I’m prompted to touch on this subject because two of my consulting clients recently experienced situations where teamwork fell apart. Both companies were experiencing too much “I” and not enough “we.” My advice for regaining that great feeling of teamwork was to start at the top.
In another words, you, the “boss,” must be the visionary, strategist and motivator.
The Human Side
Two of the most powerful motivators for accomplishing challenging work are trying to make a difference, and the opportunity to work closely with others to achieve a goal. Put these two things together and you have the potential for a high performing team.
When building teamwork within your organization, you must be motivated and motivating. Only when you understand how people interrelate can you inspire team spirit and increase the motivation that drives your team.
In order to meet your employees’ basic need of being cared about, you must genuinely care – and show them that you care. This will motivate them to work harder and smarter.
Showing you care about people is not expensive; in fact, it doesn’t cost your business anything. It often requires only a minimum amount of energy. Yet, it can greatly build up the most important assets of your company – human assets.
Managers who care:
- Inspire their employees to work harder;
- Make their employees feel good about the work they’re doing;
- Find out what their employees are really good at;
- Ask their employees what they’d like to do;
- Encourage the team to do more than all of its members could do as individuals;
- Work with their employees as colleagues, not over them as a boss;
- Excite employees about doing things they never considered;
- Treat people fairly, firmly and consistently;
- Listen to what their employees have to say;
- Build teamwork among workers and management.
In other words, a manager who cares about employees inspires them to care about what they’re doing – and they will then become more motivated to achieve.
The word “encouragement” has at its root the Latin word “cor,” which means heart. When you encourage employees, you actually give them heart. You’re showing that you care about them. You lead with feeling.
To show your employees that you care about them:
- Respect their individual dignity. Help them sustain and build that dignity through their work by allowing them to think and make choices.
- Give employees support when they need it.
- Show that you care about your people through your leadership – in ways that reinforce a powerful message, “We are all in this together – we’re a team.”
To motivate your employees, you must be motivated yourself. You must have a fire in your belly – the desire to do something important, to do it better, to make a difference in your company and your industry. It’s this desire that lights the passion your employees need to see and feel.
Just as you must care about your employees, you need to inspire them to care about each other. Seek out employees who go out of their way to help fellow employees, and encourage them to support each other.
In working with dozens of kitchen and bath firm owners, I’ve learned that having great design or business skills doesn’t necessarily mean having great team-building skills. Good team builders know how to delegate and empower their employees. Too many owners and managers have to touch everything. They haven’t learned to step back and manage. Following is a list of advantages to building a team within your organization:
- Employees working together are generally more successful at solving problems.
- Being a member of a team helps people feel more energized.
- Teams can make constructive use of differences in expertise, experience and personalities.
- Team members can work together to improve processes and reduce mistakes, waste and costs.
- Teams give employees a sense of belonging and security.
- Since most work requires the cooperation of employees, teams simply make good sense.
When building a foundation for your team’s success, remember that as the manager, you set the tone. Your actions and attitudes greatly affect the environment in which your team must perform.
Here are 10 ways to prepare your team for success:
- Give them a clearly defined set of goals and purposes.
- Let the team make its own rules.
- Encourage fun and a sense of humor on the job.
- Give employees the authority to make decisions and act on them.
- Be supportive. Do what you say you’ll do!
- Let the team find solutions to its problems without intervening.
- Allow team members to make financial decisions and create their own budgets.
- Expect ups and downs. Some projects will run more smoothly than others.
- Let the team set up a rewards and recognition system.
- Create and nourish team spirit and pride.
In general, the longer team members work together, the more effective the team becomes. As relationships develop, they contribute to unified efforts that pull everyone together in getting the job accomplished. Through working together, employees learn how to become a more productive unit. They also learn how to take initiative, not only to solve problems and take advantage of opportunities to improve, but even to anticipate problems and seek out opportunities.
As time passes, the employees require less managing from you until they become essentially a self-directed team. When this happens, you know you have done a good job building your team.
Remember, good management is getting the job done through other people.