Managers encourage team spirit for improved performance

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Many a time teams do not perform as expected so as to produce the desired organisational results. Most of them fail to perform to the expected level due to lack of clearly defined goals.

Paul Nyausaru

If situations are not going well, the team members are more likely to pass on the blame to a single team member, considered a weak link, rather than to seek the manager’s clarification on the team’s objective.

It is, therefore, critical for the manager to clearly define the organisation’s mission, vision and core values for them to visualise where they are going. Without these critical elements, subordinates tend to continue working individually and unsure of how to function as a team. It is the role of the manager, then, to ensure that the team gets together on a regular basis so that everyone can bring up questions or concerns and redefine common goals and objectives of the team. Clarity and commitment to a common goal will make it easier to spell out each team member’s roles and responsibilities and get important regular feedback.

If team members do not fully understand the concept of teams work, it is easy for them to think that they do not need a manager or a supervisor and that they can be self-directed. This thought may even be reinforced because the manager has adopted a less directive attitude.

In addition, many on the team may be unwilling to share. There may be a lot of personal investment and sense of ownership about their work.

It takes a great deal of maturity to deal with the openness that teams often require. There is need then to cultivate a culture of team ownership of achievement or failure rather than to work towards outshining other team members and claim all the credit.
No matter what the team’s task, one way to build a long-term and intact team is to pay a lot of attention to relationship building. If each member of the team feels valued and respected, then he or she will be a motivated team player. The following suggestions may assist team members get along:

Trust
Trust is essential in sharing information and planning for the department’s activities. It is, therefore, critical for team members to discuss, in a constructive way, behaviours that can erode trust. Building trust requires respect, belief in the competence of others, taking risks and open, direct communication.

Resolve conflicts
Conflict is inevitable within teams and a natural part of team building. Confronting problems and resolving conflict will make the team grow stronger.

The manager is at the centre of conflict resolution and should try by all means possible to be neutral so as to gain respect of all in the team. Conflict resolution mechanisms need to be put in place so that there is a standard way of handling conflict when it erupts among the team.

Empower team members to influence decisions and outcomes
This concept requires team members to listen to each other. Too often, ideas are cut off, either by the team leader or members. An example would be a team member putting out a suggestion or idea and the response being, “great, but . . .” When the word “but” is used, it may imply that the other person has a better idea and someone is not listening. This results in enthusiasm and creativity being stifled.

Give teams a wide range of roles and functions
If teams are provided with training, information, equipment, materials and especially the opportunity, they can accomplish significant work. Recognise the great potential that resides in each and every member of the team despite the hierarchical level that they occupy.

Remember, every member of your team plays different roles in their lives. One might be a cleaner in your team, but remember he/she is the chief executive officer of their family which they are running perfectly well. So a good manager taps into that for the benefit of the organisation.

Paul Nyausaru is a training & development practitioner. You can contact him on email pnyausaru@yahoo.co.uk pnyausaru@gmail.com. Views contained in this article are personal