We’ve all come across or worked with teams that seem to just work together. All the members seem engaged and enthusiastic about reaching their goal or mission. They treat one another with respect, collaborate effortlessly and seem to consistently accomplish wins. Chances are, teams like this have one quality that sets them apart: a strong team spirit.
With more people now opting to work remotely, it’s more important than ever for your employees to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Organizations with strong team spirit strive to make a difference, and employees at these organizations are willing to pitch in and problem-solve while maintaining a positive outlook.
While it’s easy to talk about team spirit, making it work is not so easy. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and assess where you are right now. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at what we mean when we talk about team spirit, as well as how you can help build and maintain it.
What is team spirit, really?
A good definition of “team spirit” is a feeling of camaraderie brought about by employees being willing to work together and support one another despite whatever obstacles come their way.
Team spirit can exist in small groups and at the larger, organizational level. It’s something you definitely want to foster — when employees feel that they are a part of something, that’s when the magic happens. Both leaders and team members understand the importance of collaborating with and supporting each other.
But here’s the thing: It doesn’t just happen because you want it to. It can’t just be imposed by decree. Nor is there a one-size-fits-all solution to creating stronger team spirit — and it’s something that takes time to build. Luckily, there are a few ways you can do this.
Start with your company culture
Company culture plays an important role in cultivating team spirit. A strong company culture is demonstrated by engaged, collaborative employees and managers who inspire confidence in their staff while promoting cross-team collaboration.
On the other hand, if your workforce seems disengaged, cynical, glum or siloed, you are likely suffering from a weak company culture, which has a similar effect on team spirit.
Here, communication is key. Companies that encourage open, honest communication and foster employee interaction will have more effective — and spirited — teams.
It’s not enough to just listen, however — you need to take action when you receive feedback. You need to stand by your company values, too. Can you articulate them? If not, then they likely haven’t been communicated clearly to employees either.
Building effective teams comes from the highest levels of an organization: Leadership needs to see cultivating team spirit as important in order for it to thrive.
Look for soft skills
When everyone on your team is self-motivated and enthusiastic and they’re all working toward the same goal, this creates a spirited atmosphere where productivity and ideas thrive. That’s why hiring the right people is crucial.
When interviewing a potential candidate, it’s important to look for people with the hard skills that will help them succeed at the job.
However, it’s equally important to hire for soft skills in order to create a strong team spirit. After all, work is, at its core, social — so having people with soft skills like emotional intelligence, collaboration, dependability and good communication will help you build a better team.
While soft skills are important to consider, that doesn’t mean you should hire only people who think the same as you. Look for cultural add over cultural fit in order to build a diverse team with different perspectives.
Clearly communicate and track goals
People need to know what they’re doing and why in order to feel excited and motivated. Clearly communicate what the team’s goals and purposes are and what defines reaching the goal.
If your team is not clear about what goals to reach or if these goals change daily, it can make your workforce unmotivated and unproductive.
Aim to communicate progress toward these goals — for example, by putting up a sales leaderboard or sharing company wins. Finally, ask for feedback to ensure your messaging is clear, since — as we said above — effective communication is vital in teamwork.
Address conflict immediately
Keep an eye on team members to make sure they are working well together. When obstacles or conflicts occur, company leaders and human resources managers should attempt to resolve them immediately by identifying the underlying issue.
For instance, if two of your employees are butting heads over which direction to take a campaign strategy, take some time to understand why there’s a disagreement. Then speak privately with the parties involved to learn more about what they have to say and where they’re coming from. Respectfully and firmly allow them to address their thoughts and concerns with one another.
Chances are, they may have the same goal but different ways to go about reaching it. When conflicts are worked out professionally and in a respectful manner, it enables people to collaborate better — and can even strengthen working relationships.
Keep morale high
Low morale can affect productivity and financial performance, and combating it in the workplace is a key step toward strengthening team spirit.
It’s important to recognize and reward your team’s wins, whether that’s through physical rewards or communicating their achievements throughout the organization.
In addition, providing your team with flexibility helps boost morale. This can mean offering your entire workforce one day off a month to rest and recharge or encouraging them to take more paid time off — and actually supporting it.
Last, provide opportunities for employees to interact and get to know one another on a personal level. For example, setting up weekly one-to-one meetings with the members of your team can help everyone stay connected and on the same page, while encouraging lighthearted conversations in your team’s group chat can facilitate fun, participation and engagement.
To sum it all up
Cultivating team spirit is an ongoing process that must be a priority. Start with a strong company culture, hire the right people, be transparent, address conflict immediately and look for ways to boost morale. After all, work is more enjoyable when people feel they are part of a team.