I love films about sport. My favourite ones are when the amateur underdog team beats the professional, well-funded superstar players. How do they do it? Well, it always boils down to the same thing. Without sponsorship, without popular support and sometimes without talent, they have one thing left to rely on: team spirit.
Any great manager will tell you that a well-oiled team working collaboratively and happily together is capable of achieving a great deal more than any group of disparate high performers who are only interested in their own successes.
So, if you think time invested in creating and maintaining a strong team spirit is optional, or even indulgent, think again. It’s one of the very best ROIs you can achieve in your time as a manager. But how can you go about establishing it? There are a few tactics that can prove useful in creating and maintaining team spirit.
1. Company objectives
We all like a cause because it unites us. In business, this means making sure that every team member knows what the company is about and what it’s trying to achieve. This can be easier for some companies than for others. If you’re working to develop a drug that reduces heart attacks or if you’re trying to make technology cheaply available in the third world, there’s an almost innate sense of worth or value. Similarly, in a highly competitive industry where you are in a constant race against formidable competitors, it can be easy to feel a strong sense of belonging and team spirit.
In other companies, however, managers need to help bring the company’s objectives to life. Managers need to understand their team members and help them to draw the link between the company succeeding on its objectives and the individual’s drivers being met. It may be more difficult, but it’s a necessary first step in building a sense of team.
2. Team Objectives
Similarly, a manager needs to align the team’s objectives to the company’s objectives. In that way, they’ll have meaning and all team members will see that what they do has an impact. If this sense of meaning and impact doesn’t exist, you’ll be left with a group of people who are simply carrying out inconsequential tasks, which is hardly the environment for a strong sense of team spirit.
3. Change your physical environment
It’s not always possible in a world of flexible working and hot-desking. But, the more you and your team can sit and work closely together, the easier it will be to build the bonds that tie a team together. Not only will everyone understand how their work is linked to what their colleagues do, but they‘ll also find ways of making each other’s lives easier.
It’s also easier to share those frequent pieces of information about the company, competitors, or new products on the horizon that keep everyone feeling up-to-date and involved.
Take time out every now and then to meet as a team for lunch. Use the time to share work or home stories. Ask each other about families and hobbies as well as current work projects.
One of the quickest ways to break team spirit is to lose clear and easy communication. The more you can keep everyone involved in what’s happening and explain why things are happening, the greater the sense of belonging all will feel.
5. Enjoy it
There’s no doubt that if the team can have fun, all members will feel more energised and enthused. In that way, work never becomes a chore. This inevitably means that the team achieves more and enjoys life along the way.
Team spirit is essential in any successful business. In fact, it could be your business nirvana. And if it’s not an evident part of your company, it may be time for you to make it a priority.