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  1. Great teams need great players

    August 4, 2015 by Alison Hill

    Search any employment site using the keyword ‘teamwork’ and you will find hundreds of hits. In today’s workplace, we are all assessed on our ability to work in a team. Teams may form to work on a specific project, or may be where the day-to-day work of the business happens. Teamwork is highly rated by employers and job applicants should always show off their teamwork skills. So what makes a great team? And what does it mean to be a team player?

    ‘A successful team is a group of many hands
    but of one mind.’ – Bill Bethel

    The best teams have a defined, shared goal and purpose

    Teams that are put together with a common purpose and a well-articulated goal are able to reach a solution and achieve an outcome. Everybody on the team should know what the objectives are and how to get there.

    High-performing teams have a great captain and a motivating coach

    An inspiring team leader does more than just coordinate tasks and see that goals are met. They will also be a great communicator, an adept facilitator and a skilled mediator. A good leader models desirable team behaviour and prioritises team goals over individual ones.

    A great team is much more than the sum of its parts

    When they run well, teams accomplish more and give back more to their members than working alone can ever do. (And when they run badly, they can be detrimental to both the business and the individual team members.) Teams offer an amazing opportunity to learn from others, share skills and knowledge, and to work more productively.

    Communication is the key to great teams

    A study by MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory and reported in HBR found that the best teams learnt how their members communicated and then shaped and guided the team to follow successful communication patterns. This mattered more than selecting the team based on individual talent and reasoning skills.

    Open communication and contributing ideas and information to the group are the foundations of teamwork. The best performing teams have clear rules about how and when communication will happen. This must include deciding how the team will share its progress and success with those outside of the team.

    The MIT Human Dynamics Laboratory study found that successful teams communicate by:

    • Talking and listening in roughly equal measures
    • Keeping contributions to group discussions short
    • Facing members of the team when speaking to them
    • Speaking and gesturing energetically
    • Connecting directly with other team members, and not only with the leader

    The best team members avoid negativity and set a good example

    The most valued members of teams set standards that others want to follow. They do this both through their work and in how they conduct themselves. Jealousy, sabotage, unproductive criticism and negativity have no place in a team. On the other hand, suggesting new ideas, participating fully, working towards the team’s target and respecting the contributions of others are behaviours of a valuable team member.

    According to this survey, over 90 per cent of people find that one of the best things about work is being part of a team. Has teamwork always been a positive experience for you? Is it one of the things you look forward to in your next role? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

  2. Does your manager really care what you think, and is their door really ‘open’?

    November 8, 2011 by Jenna

    Personally speaking, having worked four metres away from my manager for the last eleven years has meant that she has little choice but to care about what I think, because I certainly tell her! A lot. About everything. Like recipes, movies, novels … and work-related issues, too. Sometimes. The other day I started to talk to her about a family member and promptly burst into tears. Very professional … 

    Being physically the closest team member to her also means that I am usually, alas, the first to hear uttered those dread words: “I’ve been thinking …” 

    I was really heartened by the overwhelmingly positive response to our latest online poll: Does your manager really care what you think, and is their door really ‘open’? Almost 92% of respondents said “YES”. 

    If you’re a manager reading this, you might like to refer to the article featured in this week’s edition of The Challenge Consulting News, Articulate and Inspiring Managers Motivate Employees, in which the report cited states that “nearly half of Australian employees (48%) rate the ability to motivate and inspire as the single most important attribute of a successful leader … Often executives and managers do not realise the profound effect their words and actions have on their employees … Leaders who are able to effectively communicate their organisation’s strategic direction can have a massive influence on employee engagement levels.” 

    Two poll respondents had some very striking feedback regarding the open style of their management team:

    – “I feel confident speaking on everyone’s behalf by saying that no one team member feels intimidated or out of place by wandering (or Moonwalking) in to her office to discuss anything. Big, small, personal or business.”

    – “Our managers have a ‘Know Your People’ workbook. My manager knows that I love pugs and chocolate. Likewise, I know she hates dirty shoes but loves rom-coms and Max Brenner’s hot chocolates.” 

    Lots of studies have been conducted on why people stay with and leave companies. A quality that organisations who do manage to retain employees seem to share is really caring about the wellbeing of their employees. From the top of the company structure all the way down, there is a genuine sense of caring, listening, involvement. Employee engagement is strong, retention is high, productivity is excellent and people get along. 

    The other quality these organisation seem to share is that they are careful about who they hire to lead employees.

    They understand that the managers have to be compassionate, caring, and nurturing while still having the ability to hold employees responsible for high levels of performance. These managers aren’t afraid of developing relationships with employees. Those relationships sustain employee satisfaction even when difficult issues have to be addressed. 

    Think about it. Are you more likely to give your best to a manager and an organisation who just wants to extract as much out of you as possible in the short-term, or one who invests in your professional development, allows you to grow into your role, and gives you time to learn so you can perform at your best and give your all?

    This week’s online poll is now LIVE and wonders: Where do you go first when you’re looking for a job?


    Challenge Consulting has a Facebook page. Click the FB icon to “Like” us now and stay in touch re our new blog posts, weekly poll, links and more …

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