How to create a strong team spirit

This blog post explains how to create a strong team spirit. First, the definition of strong team spirit is explained. As described by Robert Goffee and Gareth Jones in their article Followership: It’s Personal, Too (Followership, 2014), a strong team spirit it is a mix of three feelings. First, it is a feeling of significance. Second, it is a feeling of community and third, it is a feeling of buzz. Buzz can be excitement, challenge or simply an edge in the employees’ lives. These three feelings have to be engineered by the manager before they can exist in a team. Why is team spirit so important? Imagine what would happens if one takes out the energy of a living human being. It dies and so would the team without its team spirit.

Setting the right tone

Individual and team contributions are important. An employee who reports to his manager without receiving a short feedback will feel that his work is not meaningful. Every human being loves attention from time to time and that is the reason managers should start to give regular feedback sessions. However, one should understand who the criticism process works when giving feedback. One needs to learn how to be assertive, which is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive. Perhaps some managers think that authoritarian leadership style includes screaming, threatening or fighting but this is not the case. A manager who tells the employee what to do in an aggressive way creates tension. A better way is to learn how to influence employees so that they start to want what the managers want. Employees will notice it but probably still prefer that compared with being told what to do in an aggressive tone. Furthermore, one should make sure that employees understand the company’s mission and vision and that their work is important to accomplishing them. Employees should receive the opportunity to improve the organization. If a proposed solution will be implemented they will feel significant.

Setting up a community

In this section, possibilities to create feelings of community are presented: 1. A team should have clear defined roles. That makes relationships possible. For example, a manager can function in the role of the mentor and an employee can function in the role of the student 2. A team has a function which depends among others on the company’s goals. One should go a step further and create team-based goals. That way a team will come up with solutions and come together to implement them. They will help each other and realize that each depends on the other. However, it is important to make sure that one holds the team and as well the individuals accountable for the results by establishing clear team and individual expectations 3. To build a team spirit, one can offer department members activities that take place after work. Bringing them together to teach them that there is also a person behind an employee can a valuable lesson for everyone. An easier way to bring the team together is to grab lunch or dinner with the whole team. 4. A Community needs humor, making oneself a fool from time to time can ease tension. Being vulnerable is a sign of courage and strength and there is a difference between making oneself to a fool and others making a fool out of one. We are all human beings and making jokes can reduce the tension at work.

Explaining the social equilibrium theory

Once a feeling of community is established, one should introduce what could  be called the social equilibrium theory. It can be explained best when taking a family as an example, consisting of a father, mother and two children. There will be a happiness scale from 0 to 10 with an arithmetic mean of 5, which represents the mid-level and therefore the social equilibrium; the point where everyone is as happy as the other. If now the father is offered a job in a different country that it would boost his career the result would be that his happiness level would raise from 5 to 8. At the same time, the mother and two children would become sad. The result is that their happiness level would be reduced by one point each to 4. The father does not want to make his family sad and therefore forgoes the job offer. The happiness level stays at the social equilibrium and the family can still make a healthy living. So then, a team member who takes action to improve his position but worsens the other member’s position will finally weaken the team spirit and jeopardize the team’s health. This is certainly not appropriate, since a weak team spirit leads to failed accomplishments and goals. Everyone in the team has to care for each other to reach goals.

Solving conflicts when they arise

However, a team will eventually always face some sort of conflict which would reduce the team’s happiness level. It should be a priority to resolve the conflict immediately. As explained in Sun-Tzu’s Book Way of Art, a fight has to be fought in an aggressive and brutal way to win the battle as soon as possible (Tzu, 2009). That makes it possible to limit long-term damage on both sides. This principle should be used in a conflict situation. As soon as a conflict arises one should try to solve it as soon as possible.

Creating a feeling of buzz

How is a feeling of buzz created? A strong team spirit includes excitement about the company’s products, services, mission, and vision. It is important to let employees take part in the decision making for new products and services. Another point is to make sure that one selects employees in the hiring procedure who fit not only the job description but also in the team and company. There is nothing worse than a highly skilled person that is unable to communicate with the team or represent the company to the outside world. It should be considered to create a challenge such as giving a monthly award to the employee who did the best job but first it has to be defined what the best job is and set the right criteria to receive the award. Once introduced, it should create not only healthy competition, but also the common goal to try its best . In addition, creating several rituals will make the employees feel at the edge. For example, going to a festival whenever the annual report shows a clear rise in profits could be an option or creating a short survey to ask what employees want.

A strong team spirit is essential to reach goals. One should create a feeling of significance by giving regular feedback, explaining the company’s mission and vision and offer the possibility to improve the organization. To build a community there are a few points to keep in mind but the insights of the social equilibrium theory can help to sustain it. Conflicts should be solved when encountered and including employees in the decision making process will create a feeling of buzz.

References

Followership: It’s Personal, Too. (2014). Retrieved August 13, 2014, from https://hbr.org/2001/12/followership-its-personal-too

Tzu, S. (2009). The Art of War. New York: Penguin Books.

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