The focus this week has been on building strong teams with employees. As a manager is it your responsibility to provide opportunities for this to happen. Here are a few more ideas.
Defusing team conflict
In order to change how you deal with your working relationships, you need to change how you think about them. You need to take the concept of teamwork to a new level, and you can start by agreeing on goals, roles, and procedures. Reach agreement to these questions.
What goals are we going to accomplish?
What role is expected of every team member?
How will we coordinate our work with each other?
These guidelines will help accurately identify the source of conflicts that occur in teamwork.
Roses made the difference
Several months ago, I was in Sydney for three days. I was exhausted after having worked fairly intensely at a conference and had finally negotiated the late Friday afternoon peak-hour traffic to arrive at the airport for the trip back to Brisbane.
The last thing I needed was to find that the Brisbane flight had been delayed by 20 minutes – and then for another 20 – and another 20. With each announcement, I – and my fellow travellers – became increasingly frustrated and annoyed. A couple even vented their anger at the counter and at the gate – but, of course, to no avail.
In the midst of all this collective displeasure, anger and irritation, a man came up to me carrying a bunch of red roses.
“Are you getting off in Brisbane?” he asked.
“Well – yes,” I said hesitantly.
“I wonder if you would do me a favour,” he said. “I’m also on the flight to Brisbane where I’ll be met by my wife at the airport. It’s her 50th birthday today and I’d like to make it a memorable occasion for her. She’ll be meeting me at the top of the gangplank. Would you be kind enough to take one of these 50 roses with you on the flight and present it to her at Brisbane airport?”
Somewhat bemused, I agreed.
The man went from fellow traveller to fellow traveller in turn, leaving them each with a red rose for his wife.
And then a strange thing happened. We were soon chattering among ourselves like kids, clutching our red roses, completely forgetting about the delayed flight. Even on the flight to Brisbane, the roses were the focus of our attention and we were oddly excited and exhilarated in anticipation of our imminent rendezvous.
Eventually, we reached Brisbane – and, in turn, we presented our roses – 50 in all – to an embarrassed and overwhelmed birthday girl.
The point of the tale is this: Like that fellow at Sydney airport, we can all make a difference to the lives of our fellow travellers. We can make a difference to the way our colleagues work and react with each other. It may not be with roses, but we can build a winning team. The important thing is to discover how.
Learning: a secret to team success
Experienced team members say that teams succeed because they are a good place to learn. This learning takes place as a result of a number of factors, says Communication Briefings:
Learning is steady, as team members ask and answer one another’s questions, stimulate thinking and provide new insights.
Most teams include members with different experiences and different cultures. To succeed as a group, they must understand and benefit from those differences.
Teams constantly face many kinds of problems and because the group is diverse, each team member offers different problem-solving approaches. As a result, team members learn various ways to solve problems.
Successful teams include people with different skills. Some excel at interacting with others. Some have a knack for running meetings. As they work together, they learn by sharing these skills.
Teamwork is all about transforming organisations into more workplaces. In this situation, as a leader/manager, you will need skills that inspire, motivate and support collaboration and participation.
To this end, team leadership differs from the traditional top-down leadership in several ways:
- Position and power are de-emphasised.
- Leaders recognise that staff have valuable ideas, and help them to put them into action.
- Final decisions are not left to the leader but made by the team.
- Responsibility is not the leader’s alone, but is shared by the team.
- Leaders pay attention to socio-emotional processes and interactions and deal openly and promptly with such issues in team meetings.
- Leaders are team players. They do not demand followers, but actively foster the development of other team players.
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