So you want to build a positive team?

We know that old adage ‘There is no I in team’ and the traditional way to describe what each letter of TEAM stands for is: 

T ogether 

E veryone 

A chieves 

M ore 

We know these things already, right? However, not every team is successful. One of the most popular questions asked by managers is how to build an effective team capable of delivering results. It is well known that companies that foster their employees, celebrate wins, collaborate well to find solutions and work in an agile way will be the ones to succeed. As the Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Measuring teamwork: 

There is no magical formula to hire the best people to build an effective team. It takes all sorts and varied personalities. Some who are willing to speak up, others who are happy to do the grunt work. However, teams that display all the characteristics of great  group work do so because their leaders make them feel safe in their jobs and they are trusted to do the job and perform at their best. 

The hospitality industry is an excellent example of how teamwork can be measured. One of the simplest ways is to walk down the hotel hall and observe how often the staff greets you. People greet not because they are told to say hello but because it is natural or comes naturally to them. Something so simple can indicate if the person is happy at work and with their team environment.

With practice, the brain can spot distinctions so subtle they’re impossible to describe. For example, in an experiment, humans and computers were asked to spot rocks and mines using sonar detection systems in a submarine. In time, sonar operators could tell if an object was a mine or a rock, but they couldn’t explain why. Yet the computers still struggled.’

Dr Daniel Glaser, Director of Science Gallery at King’s College London. 

A common proverb used is that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. It only takes one link to break the process. In the hospitality industry, the team needs to work together. If one person does not pull their weight, the service suffers. But on the other hand, if everyone works together, productivity can increase. Whether you are a manager, cleaning a plate or waiter, no one is too good for any job that positively affects the guests’ experience and contributes to the organisation and brand.

Build a positive, agile team

Try sowing a few of these seeds in your company, finding out which ones serve you best, and reap the harvest of stronger teamwork.   

  • The job of leadership is to create automated, self managing teams. This is a mindset and can be a big shift for some businesses. Put 100% trust in the team to get to a common goal, it’s proven that if people are happy and empowered and trusted they will rise and perform. Get out of the way and give them a chance. There is no telling how long it will take for a team to get into shape. Some will respond quickly, and some will respond slowly but there is plenty that can be done to promote collaboration.
  • Minimise what you don’t need. Reduce the number of meetings, roadblocks, sign offs and delegation. Flatten the internal structure so team members don’t have to jump through so many hoops to be productive. Provide the tools, software and collaborative spaces to have people work together. Keep the reporting lean and quick so the important things can be the focus.

According to a paper released by DR Zak on Oxytocin (hormone produced in the brain) and its association with human trustworthiness. Trust affects levels of circulating oxytocin in the body. When you bestow trust on someone, you increase the level of oxytocin in their bloodstream, and when you have higher levels of oxytocin, you are more likely to trust other people. Trust is reciprocated. If I trust you, you feel more trustworthy, and you give trust back. 

  • Take a real interest in your team. Employees feel respected when a manager greets and acknowledges them and genuinely ask if they need help with something. Ask questions and let other explain the process and where they are at. Set aside time to assist, it’s better than trying to troubleshoot later.
  • Be vulnerable. To build trust in a team, you need to start sharing your vulnerabilities, sharing your setbacks and failures, moments of confusion, and your people are more likely to share theirs with you as well. It’s OK to fail, you just need to make the learnings known and move on quickly.
  • Communicate the intent behind your action. When you make an action decision, don’t just tell people what but also tell them the meaning behind why you believe that. If you tell people the ‘why’, they will understand your intent and won’t make the wrong assumptions. People respond better when they know the ‘why’.

Delegate decision making to the whole team. Collaboratively make decisions as a team, let them manage the process and keep each other accountable. You can only benefit when you make people feel like they were part of important decisions.



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