People are always looking for a great company to work for. Of course, finding a great company is not so difficult: all you need is to connect with their values, mission and vision (which, of course, might be a little bit more difficult), but you can usually anticipate if the company is good for you, considering they way they treat you as a customer, and what employees and former employees say about it.
Having a great team, one that inspires you to give the best, to devote your competencies, knowledge and skills, in a way that is reflected in your performance, is way more complicated. You have to build it or to be more specific, you have to co-create it, as a great team is everyone’s responsibility.
The team culture is the sum of the individuals behaviors, beliefs and expectations. Great companies have teams that not so great, and of course, mediocre companies have great teams. The greatness of the company depends on how many and how relevant their great teams are, and also on the company processes, to allow this greatness expand to other areas.
A great team, one that not only achieves its goals in an effective way, but that also fosters learning and promotes engagement among their members, starts with their processes.
Clear goals and structures. I’d rather insert woodpicks under my fingernails than working in a team that doesn’t have a clear goal or structure. I don’t mind ambiguity, but knowing that my performance (and everyone else’s in my team) will be appraised based in vague goals, or that I should deliver results, but I have to convince other team members of doing their work, is just frustrating.
Commitment and Empowerment. Commitment can help even when structures are not so clear. People who really take their job seriously will do whatever it takes to deliver, but regardless of what your external consultant may say, leaders need to empower employees. Commitment is internal and empowerment is external. Empowerment is a two-way street. Managers have to involve employees, allow them to define their own processes, and solve their own issues. Employees are the ones dealing with the customer/system/product, they probably know more than the manager who is not involved 24/7. Participatory leadership is the key, as everyone feels responsible for the team’s results.
Communication and respect. Teams need to communicate effectively: say what they mean, mean what they say. They also need to share the floor, be respectful and ask questions whenever something is not clear. The team should agree on the way they’ll analyze and diagnose their processes and solve their problems, as this is the secret to a healthy team.
Fun. That might be my personal preference, but I see more productivity, efficiency and creativity when the team is having fun together. People need to be socially connected and have a sense of belonging in order to feel satisfaction. No one likes to get to work, say hello and hear the crickets as the only answer. Having fun while working is highly engaging and it’s contagious. People that have fun together, will easily give the extra mile or demand it when someone’s work quality is not the expected.
I still hang out with a lot of my former colleagues. They have become my friends and this is something that a paycheck will never cover.