The quality of your team in any organization is key to workplace satisfaction and effective accomplishment of your goals. Having a great team to back you up is one of the “golden tickets” to being happy and productive at work or in the non-profit organization you are volunteering for.
We all know what it feels like to be part of a dysfunctional team. It can be awful. The best job in the world can drain the life out of you if you are surrounded by teammates who don’t communicate well or if disrespect and power plays are at work.
On the other hand, I’ve personally been in pretty dismal jobs that were actually fun because my team rocked. So how can we get to that level of “team-playing” where things just click.
I recently noticed that my sister, a lifelong elementary teacher, was so happy in her school compared to previous years. When I asked why, she said it was because she had a great team around her. She was darn exuberant in describing how her coworkers and principal were supportive, respectful and fun to be with.
That same month, my stepdaughter – also a teacher – told me how much she loved her team of teachers even though the administration was deplorable. In fact, her team bonded together to accomplish their goals in the face of their shared difficult environment.
I started looking at a variety of both profit and non-profit organizations to check the level of their teamwork. Certainly the relationship between executive staff and board members is one team ripe for building.
I wanted to hear from high functioning teams what they thought were the essential ingredients that go into the stew to create a great team? I did a quick survey – informal interviews really – with people I knew who were on great work teams. In my little study, I found five key themes or characteristics: Trust, Respect, Communication, Embracing Conflict and Fun. At Rainmaker, we can help you transform your team to one that is higher functioning.
Trust and Engaged Support
Teammates encourage and reassure each other. They recognize each other’s work and celebrate success. They create a safe space to evaluate themselves and the organization’s activities and learn together.
Respectfully leading from any seat
There is an environment that respects each of the different roles or positions – and has clarity on mutual accountability. There is encouragement of different perspectives and a shared responsibility for the health of the whole.
High performing teams practice active listening and are able to exchange non-judgmental feedback. They know that each person needs to clarify expectations of each other.
Team members feel comfortable having sometimes uncomfortable conversations – agreeing to disagree and valuing differences of opinion or approach. There might be creative tension, but the “competition” is saved for the organization to do well in the external world.
Humor might be the key to the key. There is a social aspect to the inter-personal exchanges. Ideas and jokes bounce off each other. People poke fun at the common enemy – whether it’s a bad boss or an outside factor that is frustrating the common goals. There is a sense that “you can be your best self”.
Of course, now we all want to know how we can build better teams. First, I suggest you brainstorm with your team with the simple question: “what makes a great team?” I bet your brainstorm will come up with a similar list of the characteristics that I summarized above. Once you highlight your own 4-5 key themes, then get together in random small groups and each group come up with just 1-2 ways that the organization can boost the theme.
One of my client organizations, for example, decided to have a monthly tea to boost the theme of “having fun together”. Another group decided to have a facilitated discussion about active communication and clearer role definitions. You decide together just a few actions that can enhance the teamwork – and then agree to schedule the activities.
Strong teams do help bring the organization closer to its mission within a satisfying work environment. Go out and build your team! Reach out to us at Rainmaker to help develop your team.