The nature of teamwork is continually changing in today’s workplace. In many organizations, teams are constantly shifting depending on the needs of a project, bringing new groups of people together. Teammates often work across a vast geographical distance. All this makes knowing how to motivate a team even more important for today’s manager. By following these seven key practices, you can master the art of teamwork and get the best results possible from any group you lead.
1. Create a strong group structure.
Make sure your team is composed of a well-balanced mix of people whose skills and experience complement one another. Having a diverse array of backgrounds and perspectives will encourage creative thinking. Instead of falling into groupthink or not questioning their existing beliefs, team members will challenge one another’s assumptions. Thus, well-balanced teams have a stronger ability to think outside of the box.
2. Promote a healthy team culture.
Every team has its own micro-culture, which involves the way people communicate, make decisions, and relate to one another. When the team first coalesces, go over best practices in those areas and discuss how decisions are made. You might even quickly outline this together, as a group, so everyone feels more invested in upholding these norms. Then, model those things for the whole team.
3. Give people work they find meaningful.
Make sure everyone has the chance to fully leverage their skills in work they find rewarding. Everyone should spend at least some of their time doing the work they enjoy most. That way, they’ll each continue honing their skills in the area that gives them the most satisfaction. Allow all team members some autonomy in how they carry out their work, too. This will give them a greater sense of responsibility and investment in their projects.
4. Instill big-picture thinking.
Strive to instill a real belief in the organization’s long-term vision. Talk about the vision often, conveying your excitement for what the company hopes to achieve in the long-term. Describe the influence those achievements will have on the broader community and society. Next, illustrate how everything connects to that vision.
For every project, inspire a belief in a shared goal. Emphasize what you’ll accomplish together and how it will make a difference in the company. Tracking your progress toward that big goal and celebrating the smaller achievements along the way will keep everyone motivated.
5. Share praise and gratitude.
Let employees know where they’ve made a difference on a daily basis. Congratulate them on the big wins in special ways, like holding an office celebration. Highlight the collaborative nature of success as well, celebrating what you’ve done together, rather than focusing entirely on individuals. Thank people for their personal contributions, but emphasize that the complementary skills and experience of everyone on the team were what really drove its success.
6. Eliminate fear of failure.
Encourage people to take strategic risks to fulfill their potential. Show that you appreciate the effort and want them to keep trying promising new ideas even if one didn’t succeed, as long as they give it their all. The best new ideas often flourish when people aren’t afraid to try something new and untested. “Fear keeps us coloring between the lines,” says Dede Henley on Forbes. Employees need to know you’ll have their back if they fail—as long as they took a calculated risk and gave it their best effort.
7. Encourage creativity.
Inspire creative idea-sharing to help ingenuity flourish. Hold short brainstorming huddles to get the creative juices flowing. Encourage informal, small-group brainstorming, too. Consider setting aside an area of the office as a space for collaboration where employees can meet up with coworkers from other departments to exchange ideas. If employees aren’t in the same physical space, encourage them to brainstorm together via an online platform.
Follow these best practices, and you’ll have a motivated team that gets impressive results! Be sure to communicate what they achieve to the whole workplace to show everyone they’re part of a winning organization.