There are a number of things you can do with your team to improve how they work together. One that is often overlooked, but is gaining momentum, is simply spending time together as a team.
Teamwork requires that members of the team trust each other. Trust increases from understanding teammates better. Understanding each others uniqueness, weaknesses and intentions improves a team’s ability to work together, collaborate and even disagree in healthy and productive ways.
To get to a point where teams understand one another better requires members of the team to take time to know each other outside of work. To really understand someone requires we know about their history, challenges, successes, likes, dislikes, pet peeves etc… Work only provides a small window into understanding a teammate.
One team activity to help you get there can be done at the beginning of each meeting. It may even be the most productive and valuable part of your meeting. It can be done face to face or virtually.
Simply have each team member respond to the question… “What’s new in your life?” Do this at the beginning of every meeting. Make it something people can expect.
Responses can be as simple as, “My daughter had her first base hit over the weekend,” to “We just found out my Mother has a serious illness.” The more vulnerable and open the team is in their responses, the more effective the activity will be.
In fact you should answer the question first, as the team leader, for at least the first few meetings. The more vulnerable and open you are as the leader, the better the team will respond going forward.
It is important as well that you allow time for team members to ask follow up questions, provide support or to even celebrate a little.
Be prepared initially for a little push back by some when you first start asking this question in meetings. However, when done consistently, this simple team activity will have a big effect on the morale, trust and productivity of your team.
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