24 Nov 2021

10 tips for building a team

Whether an office is a pleasant or disagreeable place to work depends on everyone in it. In that way, it is a true democracy.

Building teams, working cooperatively, and appreciating and acknowledging your colleagues are the foundation stones of office culture. This is constructed from a myriad of small actions, from sharing the office tea round to sharing praise at the end of a big project.

How to Build a Team

Nothing undermines a team more than the tendency not to share credit when something is going right, which is of course matched by a tendency to blame others when things go wrong.

Functioning teams will always be appreciative of the demands being made on their members. Quite frequently a subordinate will have to reschedule all his or her work to meet the demands of a senior. The logistics may be unavoidable; the assumption that the assistant needs no special thanks or appreciation isn't, however.

For a team to work well, everyone needs to be broadly aware of what everyone else is doing. Regular team meetings are a way of keeping colleagues appraised of ongoing projects, deadlines, and crises. This means that, in extremis, colleagues are ready and available to step in and help fellow team-members when things go wrong or become pressurised.

It is generally a sign that a team is not cohering when people keep very quiet when volunteers are called for to contribute to a work effort or even to organise a social occasion.

Pretty speeches and mass emails have limited effectiveness in assembling a team. Personal example is what is needed:

  1. Deploy good manners at all times – opening doors for those with a handful, whoever they may be; holding the lift doors open for those who would otherwise just miss it; greeting everyone at least civilly; showing respect in the way people are addressed.
  2. Give credit where credit is due, and let it be known that this has been done.
  3. Give as much notice as possible of the looming danger of extra hours having to be worked.
  4. Show sufficient interest in colleagues to note when one of them seems ill, worried, under stress, confused or in any other way impaired.
  5. Communicate good news or appreciation from on high to everyone concerned, rather than hogging it to yourself.
  6. Suppress rumours or gossip – all of which will eventually have a negative effect on morale and leave a nasty taste in the mouth, however piquant they may seem at the time.
  7. Consult people before decisions are made – especially those that will directly concern them.
  8. Listen to what people have to say, rather than giving the impression that there really isn’t time.
  9. Encourage people to work together where appropriate.
  10. Generally behave as though the team exists.

Once the team is assembled it has to be constantly nourished, the more so since its composition may regularly change. Good managers keep a mental or written checklist of what they should do to provide this nourishment. Failure to give people a chance to talk about their work will almost invariably lead to their feeling a lack of appreciation, however lofty their position in the hierarchy of the company.

Saying Thank You

Whatever your own position in the office, you should be ready to thank anyone who takes a phone call on your behalf or who stayed behind to deal with an extra workload. Be grateful to colleagues who show concern when they can see that something is wrong. Always acknowledge people who remember something that you’ve forgotten.

And don’t forget to thank people who lend you things, who clear up your rubbish, and who even offer to make you the occasional cup of tea!

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