Understanding Your Team as Individuals
We can probably all think of a great team we’ve been a part of, whether it was through a high school sport, a work project, or even through a personal hobby. But what about that team made it so special? Was it the people? The positive company culture? In order to create a sense of trust and community within your team, it is important to get to know our team members on a personal level. When team members feel that they are being recognized as individuals, it can boost workplace morale and communication. Building a foundation of connection and trust is vital to building an effective team. Here are four integral pieces of creating community:
Get to know them
Ask them questions. What is their favorite hobby? Who do they spend their time with outside of work? What is their favorite local place to go? If scheduling one on one talks with each team member seems daunting, make time for team bonding. Team bonding builds rapport and enables each member to learn more about the people they are working with. This bonding can involve a time set out for ice breakers or something as simple as chatting over lunch. Check-out our Activity Database for ideas! Taking time to invest in learning about each team member shows that you care about who they are, not just what they can do for you.
Once you have built this personal connection, you can move the conversation towards understanding how they, individually, can bring something to the team.
Find their unique strengths, and focus on them
Empowerment can go a long way! Focusing on a team member’s strengths can be more beneficial than trying to improve all their weaknesses. Once someone is made aware of their own strengths, they tend to have higher self-esteem in the workplace, generating productivity and buy-in. As Gallup’s research shows in the article, To Unleash People’s Strengths, Help Them Manage Weaknesses, developing people’s strengths leads to significant increases in performance, engagement, well-being, and business results.
As leaders, we can foster a culture full of appreciation by encouraging all team members to acknowledge the strengths they see in others. Invite each team member to make praise a part of their regular vocabulary. Regularly incorporating affirmation activities such as Post-it Displays of Appreciation can be a great way to do this. A team can only work towards a common goal if they feel supported to do so.
Set individualized expectations
Grasping an idea of each member’s strengths and weaknesses also gives you a more reasonable projection of what you can expect from them. Nobody wins when expectations are set that cannot be met. One person leaves without what they needed, and the other with a knock to their self-confidence because they could not provide what was asked of them. Expectations should be tailored to each individual so that both parties involved are set up for success.
Understand what motivates them
What are they passionate about? Use this understanding to drive higher productivity within the team. Help your team wake up and go to work excited by doing something they care about! People will be happier and work harder when they are intrinsically motivated, meaning they are motivated by their own interest in the subject, rather than being told to do something. We can tie together strengths and passions to assign positions in group projects, delegate tasks, and set responsibilities.
An activity such as Show-And-Tell can be a great way to get to know your team in a fun and lighthearted way. By asking your team to share something personal, it can forge a deeper understanding and connection. As a bonus, it can easily be done virtually or in-person!
- While on an online platform, give participants 60 seconds to find an object that is important to them/tells a story about themselves. If doing this in person, ask participants to bring items ahead of time.
- Depending on the size of your group, you can set a time limit for how long everyone has to share. Have everyone go around and explain why they chose the object that they did.
- You can even give the listener’s the opportunity to ask questions.
- Repeat until everyone has shared their chosen questions.
- Follow the activity with a few debrief questions such as:
- How was that experience?
- How did that activity help us build our team?
- What do we need to remember from this activity moving forward?
*Meet the Author*
Brielle graduated from Chapman Univesity with a B.A. in Strategic and Corporate Communication and a minor in Leadership Studies. She is currently pursuing her M.S. in Health Science and Strategic Communication.
Favorite Quote: “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – E. M. Forster
Fun Facts: 1) I love to paint in my free time 2) I would love to have a pet snake 3) I like to go on new hikes on my days off and identify plants along the path!