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ArabianKnightress's avatar

How does one create a "Team Work" environment amongst employees?

Asked by ArabianKnightress (670 points ) May 11th, 2012

My employees have been together for more than 15 years together, I (the Boss) am the new person on the block. I’ve shown them that I am there to pitch in and make their day go much easier. They don’t seem to do the same for each other.

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11 Answers

Nullo's avatar

Do they know that you expect them to help each other?
At my job, I’ve noticed a tendency for workers to slack off in retaliation for other workers’ slacking off; naturally, this feeds on itself until one or the other parties breaks down and does the work. You might see if you’re dealing with a similar issue.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

When we got a new department head, she announced that she was going to schedule one-on-one time with each of us. During these meetings, she asked three questions: 1.) What is working within the department that you don’t want to see changed? 2.) What doesn’t seem to be working? 3.) How would you like to see changes made to the things that aren’t working? (if applicable).

She took notes and followed up with each of us about our suggestions, even if it wasn’t something that would be implemented.

This was a breath of fresh air after having numerous supervisor changes in my career. More often than not, a new boss would come in and immediately want to make changes to procedures that they were comfortable with. There was one who asked me to do a weekly spreadsheet when all he had to do was learn how to read the reports generated from our computer system.

Recognition programs go a long way. In most cases, team members just want a pat on the back for a job well done. Instead of running these recognition programs herself, she got the whole team involved.

Charles's avatar

Get the right people on the job and get rid of the wrong people.

Lou Holtz was a Notre Dame football coach about 20 years ago. He was quite successful. Reporters commented on how he was such a great motivator. His reply? “I’m not a great motivator. I’m very good at weeding out those who can’t motivate themselves.”

ArabianKnightress's avatar

@Nullo I think you hit the nail on the head. These women have worked together for more than 15 years and have become too comfortable with the way things have been. Sounds like I am dealing with the same issue.

ArabianKnightress's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer Now that sounds like a great idea. Wrote down the three questions and will try to do the same with them. If I do put into place a few ideas that were suggested to me by my staff, this alone just might work! :) Bless you!

ArabianKnightress's avatar

@Charles You have no idea just how hard its been for me to find new employees let alone the “right people” if I could I would. I now can understand and respect a new boss’s decision to clean house and start fresh.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

When members of a group all benefit when they achieve important goals, the team-work environment develops on its own. There is tons of social science research to support this.

Kayak8's avatar

There is a difference between being a boss and being a leader. There are some really good resources online if you google “Leadership.”

One of the key things I did with my team (after taking numerous leadership courses to try and wrap my brain around the magnitude of the topic and to determine my own leadership style), was to give them a list of about 40 “values” words. This included words like honesty, integrity, freedom, family etc. (you can probably find the list online). The exercise is to have each person sort the list of 40 down to 20 acknowledging that all of the words are important but you want them to keep the ones that are MOST important to them. Keep doing the exercise until each person has three words on their list. As it works for most teams, the three words describe the CORE values that are important to each person.

I know the three core values of each of my team members and they know mine. We now have a vocabulary to talk about things when we disagree. For example, [this is made up] one of my staff with a core value of Freedom may respond differently than another employee when she wants to leave early for the day and I say “No.” Because she knows that one of my core values is Justice, she is okay if I say, “you can leave early tomorrow, but Bob is leaving early today and I need you to cover.”

In conversations, we actually acknowledge which of our values is driving our opinions and it makes it MUCH easier to talk about things. There is an unspoken element here as well: If I do activities like this with my team members, they know I am trying to get to know them better as it relates to work and that I value what each of them bring to the table. That alone can go a great distance toward building a team.

I need to add that I work in a Union environment where I can’t just fire someone that isn’t working toward the betterment of the team. This teaches the leader to work with what they have and to try and bring out the best in people.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Do you know enough about each team worker yet to know what they think are their respective strengths or at least what they each like best to do. If so then you can create a project that would need each of them at their best contributing. Most people like to take the path of least resistance so they would likely each try to do or contribute “their thing”. If you’re fixed financially for it then present an after the fact luncheon or an early close up day as a thanks for the accomplishment.

Cruiser's avatar

I have had a number of issues to solve over the years and different personalities are always going to clash. One recent problem was my secy just wouldn’t let my new hire help her with anything….she just didn’t take to him in anyway and kept coming up with lame excuses to keep him at a distance. I finally had to put my foot down and “order” her to allow him to do certain task….I told her to delegate instead of bitch and little by little she did. Yesterday she came into my office to tell me how she was going to train him in all the shipping procedures for when she goes on vaca! Little victories I call them.

Also once a month we have a potluck lunch where everybody brings something and there is nothing like everyone having a relaxed meal together to iron out any wrinkles that may have formed between employees.

Everybody has bad days and some days it can seem that it is all at once! Never easy though that is for sure. Good luck!

Dsg's avatar

My suggestions are to create some inspirations….like those motivational pictures you can get to hang on the wall. Have weekly team meetings and express how good everyone is doing working as a team. Maybe offer some recognition with a get together outside of the office. That always seems to create a team by letting everyone get to know more about each other.

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