Advice Given for Building Stronger Teams, Achieving 'Team Goals'

Advice Given for Building Stronger Teams, Achieving 'Team Goals'

If you've ever seen the movie The Untouchables, you may recall the scene in which Robert DeNiro expounds upon the virtues of teamwork, and then uses a baseball bat to give an effective demonstration of the problems that are created when workers do not perform as a team. 

Even if you've never felt like using a baseball bat as a motivator, you may feel that your kitchen/ bath firm and its employees could use some team building. This does not require a trip to a secluded retreat, or trekking with your office manager up a sheer cliff, and it can yield significant benefits regardless of the size of your company.

Here are some ideas can implement starting today:

Get everybody together as a team. Put aside time to meet. Get everybody in one room, preferably in a casual setting. Do not set it up so that you are at the head of the table or behind a desk. Put people at ease, perhaps holding team meetings over a catered lunch.

Set some goals. Your team needs a destination to be successful. Make the goals finite and accessible like cutting the number of items on the final punch list, or reducing the time required to complete a job, or closing more sales. The goals should force the group to reach beyond what it normally achieves, but must also be within reach. And, your team must not only be capable of achieving the goals, but you must be in a position to support everyone in achieving them.

The goals must be customer-driven. They must have a positive effect on how your customers perceive the team members and the overall business. They should also be competitor-focused. Assess the performance of your competition, especially those factors leading to your competitors' success. By establishing your company goals, you should, in effect, be challenging your competition to a "race" for customers and market share.

Give your team a chance to react. The goals you set may seem impossible at first, so allow everyone to express these feelings. After all, if they never fully embrace the goal, they'll never achieve it. If team members have trouble accepting the goals, try conducting an open dialogue with them to explore all of the obstacles they believe might prevent the achievement of the goal. Help your people see these obstacles as challenges to be overcome.

Brainstorm ways to overcome each obstacle by working with the team to identify specific traits the team has that will help to accomplish the department's goals.

Play to strengths, not weaknesses. 

Paint a picture of how achieving the goal will not only help the organization, but also the team and the individual players. To do this, some role-playing will be necessary. Lead your team in a visioning exercise: If the goal were being achieved, how would the team be operating? What kinds of things would be happening? What would the situation look like? 

Work with your team to set objectives. For each goal you identify, work with your team to set objectives that are specific, measurable accomplishments that must be achieved in order to reach the overall goal. Consider such factors as the time frame needed, the cost, the labor needed, etc. In addition, identify specific objectives that your team is accomplishing now, and point out specific objectives your team needs to accomplish. Sketch out the differences between what your team is accomplishing today and what needs to be accomplished to reach the stated objectives. List the obstacles that could prevent your team from achieving the stated objectives. 

Quantify the goals. Don't just say that you want to increase your sales closing rate. Instead, say, "I want to increase the customer-closing rate to 75% of all prospects." 

For each obstacle that's within your ability to control, identify the best solution to eliminate the obstacle. Don't dictate; solicit everyone's opinion. Try to reach a consensus.

Empower the team members. Put their suggestions into operation. Nothing will kill the team's spirit like a suggestion that's made which can't be implemented because "that's not the way we do it." Improvement will never occur when you do things the way you do them now. Real change can only be brought about by change.

Finally, define your expectations for each action that's recommended by your team in writing. By documenting your expectations for each action, you'll find them easier to review with your employees on a regular basis.