Are you trying to develop a team that works together like a well-oiled machine? Maybe your current team is the furthest thing from adaptable, getting tripped up by the slightest professional change or challenge.
Add in any distractions or angst from outside of the job, and it's easy to have problems creep into the work environment and throw off colleagues. But not to worry, it is possible to overcome major obstacles if you take steps to develop an agile team.
And just to be clear, when I say "agile", I'm not strictly talking about the common team structure that uses, for instance, Scrum methodology, although this article will benefit those teams. I'm talking about building a team that can handle any problem, quickly adapting to new challenges.
With that said, here are at eight tips for creating more adaptable and agile teams.
1. Make Everyone Feel Like Welcome Additions to the Team
Every team should focus on working together, regardless of size. If even a single team member feels like an outsider, the team dynamic falters, production suffers, and the group's efficiency takes a hit. No one enjoys feeling like they don't belong, so always be friendly, kind, and welcoming to all team members.
The easiest way to ensure your team operates smoothly is to encourage appropriate socialization during the day. If many of your teammates are working remotely, set up situations where everyone can interact on social media or video chat. This will bring co-workers closer together, eliminate negative feelings if someone feels like an outsider, and ultimately make your team stronger because everyone will be familiar with each other. And while you can't guarantee team members will trust and like one another, this approach should lead to your team working better together.
2. Embrace Individual Uniqueness
When developing an agile team, a diverse group of individuals with their own opinions, experiences, knowledge, and unique viewpoints is preferred. Remember to celebrate these differences instead of using them to create distance between coworkers.
It's smart business, too. For every $1 spent improving diversity and inclusion, a company gets $3 in return in areas such as new business and customer retention.
Your company can draw on the unique characteristics of each team member to overcome difficult challenges that would be impossible to tackle in a homogeneous environment, as opposed to a group made up of people with diverse backgrounds and skill sets.
3. Provide a Comfortable Work Environment
Your team members will work faster, smarter, and harder if their work environment is comfortable. Not only should it be physically comfortable — cool, quiet, etc. — but each member of the team should feel comfortable working with one another.
Glassdoor has several good ideas to make work settings healthier for the body and mind, including this one: Bring a few plants into the office or department. "Plants have a very calming effect on most people, " the recruitment site noted.
Also, keep ridicule and public reprimands to an absolute minimum and perform trust exercises to ensure safety and unity.
4. Put Time Tracking in Place
It’s tough working together as a team if you refuse to track your progress on a daily basis. Certain time-tracking software is perfect for teams looking to become more agile because the applications can track workflow, measure progress, and discover strengths and weaknesses. All of these benefits can help improve production.
5. Examine Team Goals and Productivity on a Regular Basis
As a team, it’s important for members to take a look at their individual progress, as well as their overall group progress. By examining each aspect, the team and each individual will be able to improve cohesiveness.
A word of caution: Make sure your team's goals are objective and can be measured in some way. Having subjective or unclear goals promotes apathy and uncertainty — the opposite of what you want.
Further, make sure team members are familiar with an organization's mission. By understanding the goals of the company, everyone will know exactly what you’re all working to achieve. Make company goals a part of the overall team culture and have the entire staff make it a part of their psyche. This will help improve productivity tremendously. Again, the focus is ownership.
6. Make Better Decisions Working Together As a Team
When you work with a team in which members support each other and stay committed to one another’s success, the group will make better decisions on the whole. Instill a sense of ownership for team members. If certain workers only look out for themselves (as opposed to the company), they will make decisions that only benefit themselves. Some level of self-interest is unavoidable, but watch out for pure selfishness. It's damaging to the team and the organization as a whole.
7. Leaders Should Always Participate
If you intend to create an effective, quick, and agile team, leadership should step up, work hard, and always go the extra mile.
That old adage is applicable here: Lead by example. By taking this approach, the team will see leaders are willing to get their hands dirty and work hard to match the outstanding productivity of their reps.
8. Encourage Open Communication within the Team
This should go without saying, but everyone should feel comfortable communicating openly and honestly with one another. Your team will suffer if they don’t feel comfortable communicating with one another. It will create resentment and a feeling that their opinions don't matter. Make open communication a major priority.
Begin using these eight tips immediately to ensure you are building an adaptable and agile team. With these suggestions, your team will thrive, and before long you’ll see everyone accomplishing amazing things. In the end, you’ll realize your efforts paid off and you’ll be grateful for the opportunity to develop an agile team that can truly do some amazing things.
It may seem like a difficult task at first, but once everyone lands on the same page, gets to know each other, and respects one another, it becomes obvious that the effort put forth by everyone was totally worth it.
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