How do you refer to your staff? Do you ever call yourselves a team?
It’s a great word – it symbolises collective effort, cooperation and even equality. Everybody has a role to play in a team.
Yet unless we really do work as a team, this word is meaningless. If everybody is not pulling in the same direction and making a contribution, it is not a team – it is just a group of people who happen to spend their working lives in the same place. Labelling it a team does not make it true.
So how do we ensure we really are a team?
Begin by defining what a team is: you might think of things like support, encouragement, sharing difficult tasks, celebrating success together and, above all, working towards common goals. Once you have this description, it can easily be translated into a set of aspirations for your staff members. However, it is not enough to simply tell everyone that this is how you want them to work. No matter how good their intentions to begin with, people will naturally slip back into old habits once the pressure of the daily routine returns. If you have struggled to create a team in your practice, the only way to do so is to introduce a cultural change to the business – and if you want to be successful, you must remember that you are a member of that team too.
Looking back at the list of attributes which a team has, ask yourself how you could show your staff what you want. Do you need to organise more regular team meetings to look at everyone’s workloads and address any problems collectively? Could you praise individuals for their success, or offer to help junior staff with a difficult situation? Leading by example is the best way to ensure this team culture is fully rooted in your business.
Creating a real team takes time and effort, but it is worth it: studies show that teams are far more effective, productive and successful than groups. If you want your business to perform at its best, begin by creating a strong team.
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