What to say and how to behave to build a strong team from inside out
Your company is as strong as your smallest team. When the smallest team in your company is successful at achieving the company’s goals and hits its targets with flying colours, know that you have something good going on there.
Talk to every member of the team and discover what makes them tick and you have a winning recipe for the whole company.
In my career, I’ve been part of teams in a number of companies and this is how team members behaved in successful teams.
What to say and how to behave to build a strong team from inside out — 8 actionable insights
1. Show respect
Showing respect to one another is essential.
Respect for their professional experience and their life experiences no matter their age. It’s common for employees of different generations to work together as part of a team.
People in their early twenties or Gen Zers and people in their late forties or Millennials and Gen Xers have to work together on a project or share the office space. People of one generation should be respectful in behaviour and communication towards people of other generations and keep in mind that each employee is there because he or she has unique abilities or skills which helps the company achieve its goals and overall mission.
How do you show respect?
It could be as basic as refraining from talking over the other person no matter how excited you are to share your idea or refraining from browsing your social media feed on your smartphone. You have plenty of time for that, haven’t you?
Also, if you listen to each other, you could be pleasantly surprised!
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2. Give trust
In the workplace, trust is given, not earned.
When you work in a team, you trust your colleagues to finish their tasks on time and to the best of their ability.
When doing your job hinges on them doing their job then trust is paramount. It’s like being in an acrobatic team, performing at the circus: when you fly through the air doing high-speed rotations, success is being caught by your partner.
Your team is strong when everyone pulls their own weight and delivers the project on time.
3. Speak up
A successful team is a diverse team.
Team diversity means members of different ages, cultural backgrounds, life experiences, marital status, religious beliefs and so on.
A diverse team should be comprised of an equal number of men and women.
Whether it’s a marketing campaign, advertising banner or organizing a global event, it’s important to share your perspective on the matter and save the team from making a mistake.
I bet this has happened to you at least one time: you’ve looked at an ad and instantly said to yourself I can tell there was no woman in the creative team behind this ad.
Speak up and draw the attention of your colleagues on cultural aspects that escaped them because of the age difference or lack of experience.
There’s no such thing as winning alone when you’re in a team: you win together or fail together.
4. Share knowledge
When team members learn from each other, the team becomes stronger with each team member acquiring knowledge in a new field.
This type of learning helps everyone: your work improves greatly, you begin to understand each other and collaborate efficiently.
How should you share knowledge with your colleagues?
Be patient and explain everything. Your colleagues will ask a lot of questions. Avoid answering with Because I say so or Because I have x years of experience and you have none.
A condescending attitude towards your colleagues doesn’t serve your interests or the interests of your team.
Not to mention that you will become unlikeable and you will soon be rejected by the group.
Help your colleagues improve their output and they will help you improve your results.
5. Provide help & support
Team members who help each other deliver the project before the deadline.
When one of your colleagues is struggling, offer help and support.
Ask how you can help and if you can and have the time, take on one or two parts of the project your colleague is struggling with.
If that is not possible, offer recommendations or show them how you would approach the project or task.
Show them digital platforms and tools that can be helpful or direct them towards resources with actionable insights.
6. Practise active listening
Active listening is listening with the intent to understand.
We’re not all expert communicators but being in a team certainly pushes you to improve your communication skills.
You need to make yourself understood and understand what others are saying.
On one hand, emotions and fears can prevent us from speaking clearly. On the other hand, bias and emotional triggers can prevent you from understanding the other one correctly.
We bring our whole self to work and some situations or words may make us feel uncomfortable because they trigger past emotions.
Before you realize it, you enter one of the three automatic responses to stress: freeze, fight or flight. None of them helps you to solve the situation in a calm and rational manner. Oh, did you know there’s a fourth response to stress? It’s called the fawn response and it’s characterized by prioritizing people above all else by doing whatever they want to diffuse conflict and receive their approval.
Active listening prevents your brain from switching to automatic responses and helps you avoid unpleasant situations or even full-blown conflicts.
Don’t trust your first feeling and don’t give into it. Ask clarifying questions and paraphrase their words.
Start with Help me understand correctly or What I understand is this. Follow up with What you said makes me feel ….This way you avoid misunderstandings and you put things in perspective.
7. Provide encouragement
Older generations of employees used to believe that the job is just that: a job that you had to do whether you liked it or not to pay the bills.
Today going to work is more than just doing a job. For the younger generation, a job is a place where they contribute to a higher mission, the company’s and theirs.
It’s an alignment of values and interests where powerful emotions are at play.
Providing encouragement and motivation is not the prerogative of leadership. Team members can also encourage and support each other.
Be kind and empathetic, acknowledge what the team is going through and verbalize their feelings. Highlight each member’s strengths and how they contribute to the success of the team.
8. Acknowledge your failures
Failure is the path to learning.
It’s pointless to feel ashamed or guilty for failing. Acknowledge your failures by sharing them with the team and also telling them what you’ve learned.
No one sets out to make poor decisions. We make decisions based on the information we had at that time.
It’s difficult for us to recognize we were wrong to our family or partner let alone in the workplace, to our colleagues.
One thing about admitting your mistake is that it builds transparency and trust with team members and leadership.
Sharing your mistakes with the team means team members learn from them and avoid making the same mistakes.