Creating a Team Building Culture

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When promoted to being the president of an organization, a person immediately needs to find ways to make the organization stronger. New leaders are often tasked with creating teams and rewards for accomplishments, and to create a thriving culture is important to the longevity of both the leader and the organization. Having the right team in place is essential to the growth of the organization, to reach personal and organizational goals. To help reach those goals, a rewards program can help to motivate staff. This paper examines the need for leaders to cultivate an environment of solid team building, and to design a rewards program with the proper levels of responsibility and recognition.

Team Building Culture

Organizations with a strong, team building environment excel at what they do, and it is important for a new leader to choose the right team members who can work together to reach crucial goals. Leaders have the responsibility to put the best teams together, to choose the people who will work best together. Team members should be ready to work with open communications, often in self managed teams, and it is in each team member’s approach to projects that can help determine the best choices for team membership.

Team members who approach projects in the right way, ready to openly explore the abilities of other team members, are compatible enough to avoid competition problems. Team members should look at tasks as problems to be solved, not judgments to make, and facts are more important than opinions2. Members avoid creating problems when they stick to the facts, and it is important to understand the types of information that each person knows. As each team member’s knowledge is identified, and the facts laid bare, better decisions and teamwork can be observed2. Leaders can take the understanding of what information each member knows, and put together a team that aligns well.

This article was originally written for my communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

Much of the puzzle of fitting a team together is in the unfortunate chance that knowledge sparks competition between members, and communications can alleviate those problems. In a media position, for example, there could be two people who are responsible for content. One is responsible for print news, the other for radio news, and the story might be suitable for either medium. Conflicts arise, especially in a situation where both members might be correct. Good leaders can work with teams to give the perception that they are dependent on one another cooperatively, to make sure members share goals and information2. A problematic situation like a multimedia news story can be handled better if each member understands that together they are pushing towards a common goal of expanded news media. Leaders need to be able to create teams that can grow together, to find these points of conflict and make sure that communication lines are broadly open.

As the leader brings the team together, open communication is vital to the success of the team. Team members not only need to share necessary information, but understand as a group which information is important. Information can be sent, or received, in the wrong ways, from uneven communication, to indirect speech acts, even a common information effect if each team member has a different idea of the most important tasks2. An organization must create an environment where the team agrees which tasks are priorities or are critical, to avoid all problems being the most critical all at once1. Leaders sometimes run into the problem of asking too much, for every project to be as critical and top priority as the other twenty projects on the list. With open communication, and agreements on which projects are the most important, teams are better suited for progress.

Open communication starts with how a leader puts together the right people for the team, and how ready they are for open dialogue. To start, the new president of the organization should talk individually with each team member, to find out how the team member feels about themselves and the other team members. Leaders should ask each individual team member what they feel their own strengths and weaknesses are, and how other team members might be able to help them succeed.

After discussing individual needs, the leader can move to an open, team-related session to see how the members work with each other. One scenario for a new leader is to put on a group lunch for the new team, a combination of a reward and a time for socializing. Team members trust each other more when they have familiarity between them, giving off the perception of them all heading for a common goal2. A group lunch, paid for by the new leader or the organization, allows a team to get to know one another away from project complications, to build trust between them. When it is time for business communications, members already feel more familiar with each other, more prepared for an open team environment.

In an open team environment, the new leader can push for all team members to interact with one another, and to openly discuss the team’s roles, strengths and weaknesses, and to find out who on the team has particular knowledge sets. Team members can open up to the group, explaining what knowledge and abilities they have, and where they could use some help if needed. When a team understands what each individual member brings to the table, there are not as many problems with information withholding2. The unique knowledge that the individual member brings to the team makes them all more nimble, and less likely to make incorrect assumptions based on perceived common knowledge.

Performance Rewards Program

Both teams and individuals can be motivated by rewards, and having a performance rewards program in place can help to keep projects moving forward. There is a balance between team awards and individual recognition that must be maintained, and a careful approach to how teams and individuals should be recognized. Leaders should make sure to reward staff members in ways that do not alienate either groups or individuals.

Individual recognition is often financial, but recognition can be an important reward if it is in tune with the organization and the industry, and works within the team ideals. In one survey3, one person reported that often members are already paid well in some industries, and financial rewards are not as important as the satisfaction gained from doing their work. One reward mechanism along these lines is when a team nominates their best member for a certain time frame, maybe a month or quarter. The team member might get their photo on a board, or free lunch, or even a small financial reward. By involving the team, members can feel more involved and find less competition amongst each other.

Leaders can offer promotional rewards for individuals as well, with input from team members, as a year-end reward. In a media environment, for example, perhaps a team member created a beautiful design for the newspaper. As a reward for excellence, the organization can pay to enter the design in a competition, or to pay the member’s way to a publishing convention. This gives not only financial incentive to do their best work, and to impress the members of their team, but it offers a chance to enhance the individual’s career in ways they might not be able to otherwise. The member is getting rewarded with a chance to be a part of something larger than the environment they are usually in, and it encourages others to do their very best.

Team rewards can also follow the same course, as individuals that excel can help pull the team up as well. If a sales team consistently improves and increases their productivity far over what is expected, the leader can set a rewards program up to recognize it. If the team does spectacularly, they might be sent as a group to a seminar or convention together as a year-end reward, with expenses paid by the organization. A team of sales “champions” could be sent to Cabo San Lucas for a week of recognition and fun in the sun, for a year’s worth of solid growth.

While larger goals should be kept in mind, a new leader could set up smaller rewards for quarterly or monthly exceeded goals. A hospital might find that the nursing staff has far exceeded their goals, so that team gets to choose any speaker they would like to have come to the hospital for a talk or seminar in the next quarter. Even the promise of a paid day off at the end of the month could entice the team to put in a bit more effort to reach the goals for the month. In some ways, the reward is still financial, but there is a social gain as well. Team members feel good about their environment, and looking forward to the goal helps motivation.

Those monthly goals do not have to be absolute either, and often should not be tied to exceptional work. Not giving a reward for beating goals can be detrimental, especially when members feel that targets are not based on performance or service, but simply regurgitated goals3. In the case of getting a day off for beating goals, it could be more of a tiered system of rewards. Meeting goals early might get you an extra hour off at the end of the month, or beating a goal by a decent, but still small percentage might get a few hours. Instead of hours off, maybe the team gets a free catered lunch one time during the month.

As a reward, a small token, such as free lunch for a team, can actually have far greater benefits than at first glance. The leader could set up the reward so that the best team of the month gets to pick the catering, paid for by the organization, and that team essentially puts on the show. Aside from the benefit of free lunch for the organization, having a team put on a lunch for everyone else builds more familiarity both within the team and with others in the organization. The winning team is recognized, and the social benefits of member interactions only makes the organization stronger. Other teams become familiar with the overall organization, and when the time comes for them to interact they will be far more comfortable with one another.

Conclusion

The need for leaders to cultivate an environment of solid team building, and to design a rewards program with the proper levels of responsibility and recognition, is vital to the health and viability of an organization. Being promoted to the leadership of an organization is an important opportunity, and a new leader needs to find ways to make the organization stronger. Leaders are often tasked with creating teams, and to create a thriving culture. The right team, and the most cohesive team members, is essential to the growth of the organization, to reach individual and organizational goals. To attain lofty goals, a rewards program can help to motivate staff and allow them to become more familiar with one another, making the team strong.

References

  1. Porter, D. (2016). Mission possible: Building an effective business continuity team in seven steps. Journal Of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning, 9(3), 239-250.
  2. Thompson, L. L. (2014). Making the team: a guide for managers. Boston: Pearson.
  3. Ueno, A. (2013). Are performance appraisals and reward really a contributory factor to service quality?. Services Marketing Quarterly, 34(1), 34-48. doi:10.1080/15332969.2013.739938

 

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