In a time of great cultural division and societal challenge, it can often seem more difficult to run a business than ever. We would not blame you for that kind of thinking. After all, how often do businesses have to deal with the scope of a global pandemic, either letting go or letting most of their workforce work from home? We live in unprecedented times.
However, that doesn’t mean our natural obligations as a leader are any less relevant. In times like these, bringing our team together is not a luxury, but an absolute requirement. This doesn’t mean we have to force friendships or meddle with the social dynamics of our personnel for them to flourish alongside one another, but we can implement tools and practices that will help them grow, and become more co-operative than ever.
The great challenge for leaders is finding means in which to achieve these very necessary goals without creating further division or implementing artificial systems that hinder rather than help. Our staff are not toys in a dolls house, as we well know.
In the following post, we hope to explore this topic together:
Encouraging your communication within your team is the first step to co-operation. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to mandate speaking sessions or enforce employee communication. That will happen naturally. Instead, you can remove the obstacles that may prevent that communication from correctly forming in the first place. That’s a healthy middle ground.
For instance, the best employee communication tools are often software-related and offer your staff complete ease of use with said platform. A communication conduit should be there to secure and provide ease of access to all of your staff. This can help them collaborate with virtual meetings, send quick messages as appropriate, and generally feel as though they can connect with their colleagues when required. This fellow-feeling often translates to the content of how your team will talk to each other, within and without your office.
Of course, without helpful HR systems, it’s quite hard for a team to truly come together in the spirit of mutual co-operation. This is because while we do expect our staff to behave and conform to policy, sometimes, at least once in a business’s life, conflict will occur. Sometimes this will develop into hard feelings between two staff members, or sometimes it can be stealth harassment. This latter issue is the most pernicious. It might be that your victimized staff member feels unable to speak to you about it, and this is where essential confidential HR services are required. They must feel like they will be trusted and believed, and that this will not have repercussions on their career.
A zero-tolerance policy for workplace bullying, harassment and sexual victimization is not only crucial, but should form the bedrock of your policy development. Of course, there’s a careful balance to strike here between ensuring your staff are safe to come forward, and that those being accused are fairly assessed and investigated, without making the initial party feel as though their claims are disbelieved. It’s a difficult balance to strike, but you must strike it, with care and attention. When staff know the right support systems are in place, they’re much more likely to feel safe at work.
It’s important to feel connected with those who work at your firm. The first and perhaps best way to do this is to keep them in the loop. When they know the directions you hope to pursue as a business, and where to go from here, you will be much more likely to work together in the spirit of teamwork.
It’s important for your team to feel like they belong there. They are a part of your firm. They are part of its identity. They are a cog in its wheel. They help it move forward, and are involved in its best expressions. Let them understand when good work has gone forth to achieve a brilliant result. Let them know when you receive praise from a client of yours, because that victory belongs to the team as well as you.
Regular briefings of this nature, or to keep people updated, will help you feel like more of a family. It’s the same logic that encourages families to eat dinner at the evening table with their families. Natural conversations flow from this, as do queries that need to be raised, as does the feeling that everyone is on the same page. Not a bad place to start.
Reward incentives can be a great means in which to foster collaboration. While recognizing individual work is important, it can also be very healthy to recognize when a department comes together. For instance, right now your marketing team is likely working on overdrive to appeal to your consumers during a time in which they are keeping tight-fisted with their money. If you notice that your digital marketing team have managed to increase engagement by 30% this week, that’s something to celebrate, and not necessarily only a consequence of people staying indoors.
Reward incentives, be that through simply recognizing work, or winning prizes, or working towards a bonus, or becoming eligible for an end-of-year award, these are the things that help people feel like applying themselves. However, more than all of this, direct, honest, purposeful praise can be a magical force. This is especially true if you do not give it freely, but you only reserve it for meaningful discourse. A compliment and a smile can sometimes help validate someone’s sense of belonging in that role, and this even goes for those who have occupied this role for some time. Staying open and communicative this way, as a fantastic example, will no doubt help you connect with your time, and vice-versa.
With this advice, we hope you can more easily bring your team together. In times like this, working hard with our staff and feeling that mutual respect can go a long, long way.