As I work with schools in providing staff and parent engagement training, a question that often comes up on the part of principals is, “How can I help my grade level teams work more effectively and productively together?” Or as one principal told me, “Some of my teams don’t function as a team. They are more like individual contractors.”
In any organization there are usually teams that work well together and others that struggle. What can leaders do to bond teams and increase engagement?
Here are some tips on increasing team engagement:
- Begin with vision: Vision is a mission that is larger than the individual, yet at the same time is also personally compelling and inspiring. Vision transcends the mundane and ordinary details of the day. It provides inspiration in the midst of hard times, frustrating clients and routine work. According to Andy Stanley in his book, Visioneering, it takes 21 (!) repetitions for employees to buy into a vision. Consequently, vision isn’t something you present once a year at a staff meeting and then assume everyone is on-board. Vision is something that permeates everything you do. Here are some examples of compelling visions:
- Empower every child to reach for their true potential and grow
- Give hope to everyone from the the financially secure to the financially distressed. ~Dave Ramsey-Financial Peace
- Represent their home country well and share with the world their ability and passion~Team USA
- Intentionally build relationships: In order for a team to bond, they have to feel connected. DISC training sets the stage for this as it encourages teams to recognize each other’s strengths and to value contrasting styles. Building relationships means structuring time while encouraging openness and support. Leaders can model this by making sure that they are a part of the equation. Recognize and nurture the peacemakers, the leaders, the creatives, the caring and compassionate individuals. Everyone has a role to play in building the team.
- Identify the common enemy: This isn’t the same as competing for the highest test scores, pitting one department against another or achieving a higher sales quota than that of a competitor. This is much deeper than that. The common enemy my be a lack of understanding or information. It may be a societal norm or personal label that interferes with the ability to grow and learn. It may be feelings of helplessness or hopelessness on the part of clients. Teams that are disconnected can be energized around overcoming a common problem.
- Infuse tasks with motivators that appeal to each personality style: D styles love competition and want to get results. I styles love interaction and want to have fun. S styles love helping others and want peace and harmony. C styles love plans and procedures and want quality answers and good value. Understand the personality style of the individuals on each team and how they can complement each other.
Above all remember that team building is a process. It isn’t planning a one time get together or team building activity. It takes time. It takes intentionally building rapport and understanding. It takes nurturing and correcting. Trust the process.
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