Can’t We All Just Get Along? Fostering Strong Teams in the Workplace

Posted by on Thursday, December 20th, 2012 with 0 Comments

Building a strong business team

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You see it all the time – a clique within a work team.  You even notice how some folks just seem to gravitate towards others.  But what can you do? We wanted to share the best way to help your entire workforce get along.

Of course, there’s no saying these things will work.  Nor can we guarantee that your team is the best fit for each other. The workplace is, after all, not a group of happy-go-lucky friends joining forces.

Our work colleagues are not our friends.  Executive coaching of your teams means sharing that hard truth with teams again and again.  Work friends aren’t drinking buddies, therapists or confidantes.  Work friends are just that – work friends.

When the lines start to blur, politics and cattiness come into play.  Office politics will never be avoided, but they need to be addressed.  We’ve got a few aces in our pocket to help those acting as team and executive coaches everywhere sort things out:

Managers need to maintain their post.
A colleague of mine often heard stories about one of her managers drinking with his direct reports. He’d regularly refer to their happy hours outside of work, and how he needed to hydrate after such a crazy night.

While it may be okay for a manager to enjoy a drink or two with the team,  including themselves among the people that directly report to them isn’t just a wise business move. However, it is absolutely the manager’s responsibility to make sure everyone is included on invites, lunch orders and company related functions.

Team interaction should be encouraged.
If you see a team that just can’t get it together, try to create a project that will force these interactions. You might have colleagues edit each other, for example.  You can assign a task be done together with some numbers from one person and some from another (i.e. a marketing plan where one person researches the cost of print advertising and the other digital marketing suggestions.)

The best team-building projects are usually creative in nature where items are objective and need to be discussed. Ask for a PowerPoint or request they come up with 10 survey questions for an interoffice poll.

Leaders Delegate and Encourage Team Work

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Schedule time for the team to connect.
You can easily block off calendars for one hour once a month for the team to enjoy a lunch.  Why not? Other approaches like a bake club or rowing team are a great idea to get folks more interactive.

Again, it’s your job to make sure everyone, regardless of age, race or orientation is included. Most cliques are notorious for not including everyone.  It’s also your duty to try to balance the companionship of your people by forwarding these invites to others that weren’t included.

Team based incentives make a lot of sense.
A Halloween decorating contest might be the ticket to getting your folks to connect. Keep any potential topics away from religion – but make them fun. Otherwise, performance based incentives are also a great idea. Executive coaching suggestion: Make the goal attainable and be sure it requires interaction.

If you have tried everything and still can’t make your teams work, it might be time for a swap. Sometimes, when forces are divided, productivity goes through the roof.  It might even be possible to make a drawing of names so it’s completely arbitrary out of the exercise and/or to give different job functions to the conflicting sides.

It takes all kinds to make the world go around. The big issue with work is that you don’t get to choose who you go around with, right? It’s your job, however, as the executive leadership to make absolutely certain:

If you do your best to follow these guidelines, we’re pretty sure everyone will at least get along.


Larry Seal is an experienced Executive Coach, Facilitator, and Speaker with over 20 years experience working with senior and executive level teams. For executive coaching needs, corporate development and improved leadership skills, contact Larry Seal today!

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