Most work today is accomplished by teams rather than by individuals. Thus, it’s more important than ever to create high-functioning teams that are excited, committed to work and happy to stay together for the long haul. When a team hits the ball out of the park, it should be recognized. This reinforces the teams’ willingness to continue at top performance and shows the company honors those who take the company to new heights.
To keep a team humming, a manager must: 1) understand what people seek out of being a member of the team and know how to constantly ensure they get it, and 2) have fresh ideas about how to reward and recognize a team and keep it excited. Here are some ideas about both.
What People Seek
Group dynamics psychologist, Wil Shutz, noted people seek three “yes” answers to these questions every day they engage in a team: Am I significant? Am I competent? Am I liked? Each time a manager and team members assure teammates the answers to these are yes, the group performs at its highest level.
Here are some ways a manager can build and sustain a team, recognizing it with consistent actions to remind the members the answer to these questions is always “YES!”
- Start every staff meeting by acknowledging one or more team members for what they contribute. The recognition must be true and affirming. Not everyone needs to be affirmed each meeting, but all should be affirmed as time goes by. Keep it fresh and genuine.
- Remind the team what it does well. People aspire to do more if they are acknowledged for doing well. In fact, the opposite is not true: complaining about failures does not motivate people to change while affirming them for strengths motivates them to demonstrate more of it.
- Ask team members to say out loud what they respect in each other. Each week, take one member and have all others in the meeting say: “What I value about you is….” Tell the recipient the rule is to only say “Thank you”. Recipients cannot say “It’s not true or find excuses to turn down the compliment. Everyone learns to give and receive acceptance this way.
Team Reward Activities
Keeping a team upbeat takes creativity and an element of surprise. Here are some ideas for team activities that keep a team on its toes as they learn to work well together.
- Run a scavenger hunt during a long lunch. Break the team into couples and give each couple 60 minutes to go find a weird list of items or accomplish ridiculous tasks. Have them video the funniest bits so they can share it when they come back. Send a group to teach the CEO or someone key to sing a German beer-drinking song…send another to find out the longest name of any employee in the company…send another to a police person and ask what is the quirkiest assignment he or she has had to handle. Make the hunt funny and let the teams come back within 60 minutes to share their results. Give out a prize if the whole team meets their goals within the hour.
- Take the team for a cooking class. Have the group bring spouses or significant others. Let the chef organize the group into smaller teams by type of food to prepare. People will learn how to cook and learn to work together on a new challenge, which – by itself – teaches them new things about each other.
- Collect three little known facts about each member. Make up a quiz with the clues and hand out the quiz at a meeting or lunch hour. Give them 30 minutes to try and write down their best guesses to the clues by asking indirect questions of each other to discover whose clues are whose. Give a prize for who gets the most number right.
- Hi-jack the team after it’s done something astonishingly well. Call an emergency meeting they least expect. When they arrive, announce you are all going…to a movie…to a ball game…for ice cream…whatever best matches the make-up of the group.
- Discover what individual skills and talents exist and take advantage of them. Who sings well? Who plays guitar? Who takes great photos? Who writes poems? Who cooks? Have a monthly focus on one person by having the person offer his or her gift to the team.
- Ask team members what they care about in the community. Find a subject of common interest and sponsor a day when they contribute their time to it. Serve food at a shelter as a team…clean up a park together…teach students at a school…hold a bake sale to support a local charity. Teammates will learn they grow when they think outside the walls of work.
- Enlist a team coach for an afternoon to have the team try something new together. Many great programs exist today that cover a wide range of experiences to encourage people to stretch out of their normal routines and discover things about themselves and the group. Each time they do, the team becomes more aware of the subtle ways they become more tightly compatible.
- In the middle of a team meeting, have a tailor enter and start taking measurements for each individual. Explain the tailor is making something special but don’t say what. In two weeks, give them each a new, custom-tailored suit. Everyone will be asking how they got them and will recognize something is special about this group.
Team recognition serves as a trampoline under the group. It creates resilience for the group so it can rebound more quickly when stressful challenges occur. When people know they are significant, competent, and liked by the team, they bounce back every time. It’s an investment in the long-term health of all great teams.
Our CHROs team is happy to help your business with creative ways to build committed teams dedicated to high performance and exceptional success. Reach out any time to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wil Shutz, Profound Simplicity
Donna Hamlin and Bernard Flaherty: Teams that Work
Dr. Donna Hamlin leads the CHROs2GO practice in the 2GO Advisory Group. We work with clients to improve human and organizational performance. Reach out to learn how we can support you!