Monday Mornings with Madison


Most of us work as part of a team, even if we wouldn’t necessarily use that label.  Breaking a large group of people into smaller, focused units is a powerful and productive way to build any organization or company. But most teams never achieve all the benefits that are open to them. 

In some cases, members of a team have little interest in working together. They don’t offer support to one another and may actually dislike being linked in a group. In other cases, team members do support each other and are willing to work together. But if there is no compelling common goal to focus on, the feel-good benefits of team support dissipate fairly quickly and little productive work is accomplished.

Successful teamwork, on the other hand, occurs when a group identifies a compelling goal and rallies together to accomplish it. Working as part of the larger whole becomes an energizing and exciting process, which unleashes cooperation and creativity. And there are many bottom-line advantages to this.

Attract the best: As much as people want to be paid well, most valuable employees want to work in a supportive environment that offers opportunities for growth. This is what a good team provides so with that in place, your company can attract the best talent around.

Retain staff: When you have a great team, people want to stick around so you spend less effort retaining or replacing good employees. The team itself takes on a role in training and helping employees reach their full potential. 

Develop leaders: When every person in a group is supported to do his or her best, people begin to reveal their inherent talents. Some emerge as leaders able and eager to take on bigger projects without being formally named leaders.

Generate new ideas:  There is tremendous power in people pooling together their talents. When a goal is clearly expressed, motivated employees come up with creative new ideas for attaining it. And with a positive team dynamic, these ideas get the support they need to become reality.

Grow profits: The bottom line is that a strong, enthusiastic and creative team results in better customer relationships, more sales and more profit.

Of course, building a successful team is not an easy task since people bring their egos to work. Helping someone else to succeed can seem to go against one’s self-interest, and this creates the kind of competitive environment that hurts the company in the end. So let’s look at some simple tips on how to create a cooperative team:

Keep the focus on the larger goal: In order for a group to work productively, members need to know that they are all focused on the same goal. This goal may seem simple and clear to the company’s owners, but it needs to be made clear to everyone. Each employee should know what the group is trying to accomplish and how his or her contribution will be measured against that larger goal..

Create and maintain a sense of urgency: People work better when there is a constant focus on growth and improvement. Time frames and deadlines are valuable tools for generating forward momentum.

Give people permission to learn: A team can fail to perform up to its potential if its members are afraid to fail.  But as we know, genuine, robust success only takes place when people are willing to take chances.

At your next team meeting, make it clear that you want members to take risks in order to improve the company. Let them know that it’s okay to fail at a task as long as it gets discussed openly with the team in order to figure out how to do it better the second time.

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”  Andrew Carnegie.

© 2008 – 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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