If you’re noticing a lot of one-upmanship, excessive individualism and a lack of willingness to help others, it’s possible that your business is lacking team spirit.
Don’t get me wrong here – there’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition between colleagues, and we definitely don’t condemn being individual… but when the entire workday is overpowered by employees who are constantly point-scoring and trying to get noticed (for the wrong reasons), it’s time to take action.
Here are the 10 ways that work really well to inject a bit of team spirit and inspire your people to pull together.
1. Hire Team Players
This is a no-brainer, really, but it can be tough to do – after all, nearly everybody puts “team player” on their C.V. these days.
Look for candidates with proven experience working as part of a team, and ask for examples during the interview stage.
2. Include Team Spirit in Your Charter, Handbook or Employer Mission Statement
If you want your employees to understand how important team spirit is to your company, then put it somewhere they’ll see it!
You could add it to your employee handbook, include it in your mission statement, or even print it onto a poster and stick it to your walls.
3. Define “Teamwork”
If you ask 30 different people to define “teamwork”, you’ll probably get a handful of different definitions. How can you expect your people to achieve something if they all see it differently to each other?
To avoid confusion, clearly define what you mean when you say “teamwork”. Explain what it means to your company, give plenty of examples, and make sure your employees all have access to your definition.
4. Reward Teamwork!
Once you’ve defined exactly what teamwork means, develop a way of rewarding people who demonstrate your ideal behaviours.
If you reward somebody for great teamwork, make sure you are clear about exactly what it was they did to get this reward – this will reinforce and encourage similar behaviours across your workforce.
5. Identify a Common “Enemy”
A big obstacle to team spirit and teamwork is internal contention. Bickering, one-upmanship, over-competitiveness are just a few of the symptoms… and it can be really counter-productive to your company’s goals.
To help your people feel closer to each other, show them who they should really be working to beat – your competitors! Find out performance metrics that your competitors are achieving, and compare them to your own – your team will soon develop a natural ‘togetherness’ and a desire to vanquish this common foe!
6. Engage Your Enemies!
If you want to take point 5 even further, you could go as far as challenging another workforce to a (mostly) friendly sporting competition.
Imagine arranging a football tournament between 4 local companies of a similar size. Instead of investing their surplus energy into bickering and point-scoring, your staff are more likely to invest it into devising strategies, boosting each other’s egos, and preparing for the exciting foe-bashing you’ve arranged for them.
Togetherness and team spirit is so much stronger when you have a common enemy to engage.
7. Arrange Team Building Activities
There’s a bit of negative stigma around team building activities, and with good reason. But if you select your activities wisely, they can really help to bring your team together!
Try to avoid activities that might cause further splits or divides within the team (such as competitive activities like paintballing), and opt where possible for activities where the whole team can work together. You might even consider bringing a specialist on-board.
8. Let Employees Find Their Personal Strengths
Excessive individualism most often arises from people within companies where uniform behaviour is effectively being forced onto them. Don’t you realise that not everybody works the same as everybody else, and that everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses?
Even where two people have the same job role, realise that one of those people might be good at X, while the other is good at Y – let them focus on these strengths, and don’t insist on employing clones.
9. Identify & Tackle “Problem People”
Sometimes, disruption within a group can be attributed to one or two individuals. This doesn’t always mean that they are bad employees… it just means that something is going wrong, and needs addressing.
Work with these people to find out what they need to work more harmoniously with the rest of the group, and if they have a problem with the group itself, consider moving them.
10. Celebrate Success
Whenever you achieve a major milestone or a key goal, take time to celebrate your success – and make sure you highlight all the ways teamwork helped you to get there.