One of the most challenging aspects of being a manager is getting a group of distinct personalities to work well as a unit. If you're hoping to establish a solid, cohesive team, here are a few tips for accomplishing that objective.
1. Establish some overarching goals
Chances are, each person you manage will have his or her own specific tasks to tackle. And while there might be some collaboration involved, that won't necessarily set the stage for team unity. On the other hand, if you sit your team down and regularly review your goals, it'll get people thinking along the same lines. Imagine you're a manager aiming to increases sales by 10% this year. If the person who designs your marketing materials knows this, as well as your training associate, they'll be more likely to focus on that goal rather than just plow through the assignments they've been given.
2. Find employees with different strengths and weaknesses
It's generally wise to have some diversity within a given team, as it allows your employees to learn from each other and assist one another along the way. If your goal is to get a group of people who work well together, aim to identify folks with varying strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you're looking to build a strong IT team, you don't want eight people who are experts in the same software yet clueless about a new program you're trying to implement. Rather, aim for a healthy mix.
3. Reward your team as a group rather than as individuals
In any given working environment, it's natural for people to look out for themselves. But if you incentivize your team to work well collectively, they'll be more likely to do that just. You might, for example, dish out a team bonus at the end of the year that gets divvied up evenly, as opposed to awarding bonuses on an individual level like most companies do. This will really motivate folks to work well together, and once they get into that habit, they'll be more apt to keep it up.
4. Hold regular team meetings
Though some workers regard meetings as nothing more than a drag, if your goal is to establish a cohesive team, then you'll need to physically get those people into the same room from time to time to discuss challenges, share strategies, and collaborate on ideas. This doesn't necessarily mean you need a team meeting every week, but what you should do is have some sort of standing group check-in, whether it's biweekly or monthly.
5. Plan some team outings
People who work together don't necessarily need to socialize or even be friends. That said, it pays to offer your team members a chance to get to know each other outside of conference room gatherings and project deadlines. If you're hoping to build a cohesive team, plan a quarterly outing or event that allows everyone to kick back, chat, and relax. This might involve setting up the occasional lunch, happy hour, or field day. It doesn't really matter what you do as long as it doesn't revolve around actual work.
6. Involve everyone in the interview process
Building a strong team often boils down to finding people whose personalities seem to naturally mesh. And a good way to gauge whether that's likely to happen in a working environment is to let your existing team members take part in the interview process for onboarding new candidates. Rather than just meet with prospective hires yourself, have different members of your team sit down with them to not only measure their skill level, but determine their likelihood of fitting in. While it's true that a winning personality may not be enough to compensate for absent knowledge or expertise, if you're dealing with a batch of similarly qualified candidates, it pays to identify those who are most likely to work well with everyone else. And who better than your existing employees to help you make that decision?
Having a cohesive team won't just make your employees easier to manage, but it'll also increase your chances of success within your organization. And that's something you'll all benefit from.