Managers, get your team to play together

Many of us at TBC are ready for some football, and with both the NFL and college football seasons just around the corner we are pretty excited.

Since we’re in a football state of mind, let’s talk about teamwork.

Football is a great display of how teamwork can be effective and produce measurable results. Without teamwork, the players will typically lose the game. If the team works as one cohesive unit, it will result in a victory more often than not.

In the business environment, many managers strive to make teamwork a core value in the organization’s culture because the success of projects often depends upon how well a unit works together.

Still, whether it is a professional sports team or a small group at the office, just because individuals happen to be on the same team does not mean they play well together.

When people come from all over the country and have various backgrounds and beliefs, there are going to be conflicts, and some people will just not like one another.

In this case, we are discussing minor annoyances and disagreements among team members at work. If there is more serious activity taking place such as discrimination or sexual harassment, you, upper management, and HR will need to take action.

Anyway, it would be nice if your team at work could just get along and work in perfect harmony, but if you think that is always guaranteed to happen – you might be a bit delusional.

Take, for instance, the classic scene in Remember the Titans where Denzel Washington, head coach of the high school football team, says to his team, “I don’t care if you like each other or not, but you will respect each other.”

That quote is very true. Respect among team members is a key component in how the team works together. And your job as manager is to ensure that your team actually sees themselves as just that – a team.

There may be several issues that are already integrated into the group, but with consistent action and sound leadership, you’ll help improve the team’s dynamic.

A good question to consider as a manager: does your group have a defined purpose, goals, and vision? If the answer is no, you need to make a change to get your team to produce better results.

One way to move your team in the right direction is to schedule weekly or biweekly one-hour team building sessions. These sessions can serve as the perfect time to set measurable goals and to make sure these goals are set in harmony with one another and are mutually supportive.

During these sessions, you need to push communication among team members. When communication is encouraged, the sessions can help team members share information and expertise, along with resolving differences, holding each other accountable for their deliverables, and recognizing and rewarding each other for a job well done.

Look for ways to empower the team to contribute at higher levels through providing special assignments, constructive feedback, and targeted development opportunities. Encourage cooperation, rather than competition, between team members.

All of those initiatives will help inspire a culture of respect. Once respect is established, the team will work that much better together, and start producing improved results.

If competitive football players can learn to respect one another, your team at work can as well.

What advice do you have for teams to play well together?

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