How to build a strong team at work?

We all want to be in Jan Koum’s shoes and have a dream team like he has. I am not getting into why WhatsApp was sold or any deal specifics, but I request you to pause, and imagine what the 55-people achieved. I’m in awe of those super 55!! With this said, I’d like to ponder out loud on the following six points which I feel are great ways to build a formidable team.

  • Leadership – The primary onus begins with the manager/team leader. Nothing can bind a team together more than an inspiring leader. He/She collectively motivate you to do your best. If possible, a good manager must somehow foster a secondary level of revolving leadership between the team members. The team feels more enthused and confident and understands its responsibilities better, which creates a collaborative environment.
  • Clear communication – A team must be encouraged to drop their inhibitions of speaking their minds. Ideally, transparency must be aimed for i.e. all information must be available to all team members. A team must be willing to communicate with each other rather than just inform each other. This would be possible when the team members feel at par.
  • Relationship – A manager or team leader must not just focus on having a cordial relationship with each employee but he /she must also encourage forming healthy professional relationships between the team members. This could be achieved by encouraging or facilitating teams to hang out after office in new stress-free settings e.g. after office drinks at a bar or a team dinner etc. In new settings employees tend to make small talk and eventually build connections and identify commonalities to bond over.
  • Create a code of conduct /Ground rules – A team that is clear on the possible, impossible and the maybes, in general tends to bond better. This is so because they are clear up to what extent they can seek favors or give honest feedback to their colleagues without being harsh.
  • Set Goals: A team that is clear on its goals is an asset to any manager. Setting goals for a team helps create a positive competitive spirit where the individual members think not of themselves but the team as the performing entity. If anybody in the team buckles up for any reason, the others chip in that extra bit to ensure the goals are met.
  • Don’t punish failure – As much as you would like to celebrate wins and success, never punish failure. Do not ever try to set an example out of someone or teaching them a lesson for a failure or lapse they couldn’t control. This not only demoralizes the entire team but also adds an additional stress and fear of messing up. Employees fear proposing new, unconventional ideas and in the long run, this is detrimental to the company.
  • Use technology to your advantage: – This is a relatively new but fun and fast way to increase team cohesiveness. Form Google/Slack/ WhatsApp groups and share some light moments, funny jokes, light hearted videos etc. in the group. Encourage team members to do so. Team members will slowly figure out each other’s interests, moods and will always have something common to talk about or share.

Remember, people collaborate when they want to and cooperate when they have to. Always aim for the former. The above list is not collectively exhaustive of what efforts need to be made to help teams “want to “bond better. However, each manager may find these aspects and more that work great for him/her in nurturing a strong, cohesive and competitive team.

Would love to hear back on what your thoughts or experiences are on ways to increase team bonding.

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