Your Team are your Family: do you treat them that way?

I remember thinking as a child that when I grew older, I would know all there is or was to know and that I would be perfect at everything. Well, maturity didn’t exactly bring that.

However, I now appreciate my strengths but also recognise my weaknesses. And that is OK because I know there are others who have the business, technical and social skills I don’t have and we end up complementing one another. That is the joy and satisfaction of having others around me.

A team is where everyone pulls together and accepts each other for what individually they can and cannot do. What traits are needed to have an effective team — one that is cohesive and cooperative, where each member fulfils their role and then supports and complements the others within the group? There are many traits, but let me give you my top ten.

My Top 10 Traits for an Effective Team

1. Commitment: One of the most important traits in strong, happy teams is commitment. It means putting the team first and then committing to each individual within the team and being there to help them when they need it. Members should not be in competition with each other but work cooperatively.

2. Respect: This is a vital trait both in business and in one’s social or domestic life. Without respect for the individual, there can be no progress. Within the team, group dynamics can go from bad to worse.

3. Appreciation: Do your team feel valued for what they do or do they feel they are just there to do a job? The act of giving recognition for a job well done is powerful for all concerned and even more powerful when publicized.

4. Be tolerant and not always critical: Successful team leaders should focus on people’s strengths and not their faults.

5. Common interests: Try to identify and give recognition to the various outside interests of others in order to gain and build cooperative support within the group as it assists social cohesion and comradeship.

6. Be a listening ear: Everyone goes through problems at some point in their lives, but I wonder if any of your team members know you well enough to recognise any signs of stress that you may be experiencing. Are you confident you could talk to another member of your team if you have a particular problem for which you would appreciate some help or advice? The sooner a problem is addressed and diffused, the better for both you and for the group. Your team should be your family during work hours.

7. Cross-sell: We know that stores will cross-sell but why not do this within teams? When you have done something for someone else, why not ask ‘is there anything else I can do?’. It may be they are particularly busy and could do with a helping hand. Maybe another time, you will need a hand. Let us not forget the old proverb, ‘what goes around … comes around’.

8. Be willing to go the extra mile: There are times when it is important to agree to, or to volunteer to do that bit extra. Maybe working an extra hour or going to see another customer or supplier. When we are part of a team, it means we are flexible and accommodating to others within the group in order to achieve common goals.

9. Unlock the potential in others: We are all capable of more than we expect. And that applies to both you and your colleagues. We should all encourage initiative and new ideas. Innovation is the key to success. But to be successful, ideas need to be put on the table so that they can be evaluated, critiqued and improved. That is where the power of the team can be manifested.

10. Give and take: Healthy teams thrive in healthy cultures and being aware of the person who sits next to you or across your desk may give you an opportunity for a beneficial relationship to develop. If you can help them and if they can help you, why would you not open your eyes wider and listen more attentively?

A successful team is based around positive and collaborative team dynamics which depend on mutual assistance. If you are a leader and you struggle to get your team on side, you might benefit from a focused training programme which will provide the tools and skills to help you keep your teams motivated and engaged. Alternatively, you might benefit from learning to actively listen which will help you communicate more effectively, leading to improved performance and team morale. Try asking a colleague if they need a hand with their workload, perhaps just asking if they need you to look over anything. See if they return the favour. This leads to more productive and healthy work relationships and benefits the organisation because happier, cooperative staff usually means more productive and effective employees. 

Being a part of a team should mean something. You might have played on the football team at school or maybe you were a member of the school council. This probably gave you value and the chance to connect with like-minded individuals. Being in a team means being a family, whether it’s for an hour you spend volunteering with others or it’s the 9-5 at the office. Nobody can do everything on their own – we all need a little help from time to time. Cooperation is the key to group success!

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