Strong relationships are essential for leading an effective and productive team driven by trust and commitment rather than fear or power. At Gandhar, open communication is our mantra for success. From our youngest team members to our most experienced executives—we first speak our mind, both to convince and clarify and then we execute. I truly believe that the frank discussions with my team inviting divergent points of view have been instrumental and helped me in making some of my best decisions.
Here are a few tips to help encourage an open-door and collaborative culture with your team members to bring out the best in them, yourself and the organisation.
1) Build trust and cooperation among team members. The relationship team members establish amongst themselves is equally important as that which they establish with the leader. The leader needs to keep an eye on the dynamics between team members and identify ways to improve collaboration, communication, trust and respect between them.
2) Focus on team values, goals and performance. There should be no holds barred among team members when discussing goals, performance and challenges that lie ahead. Address teamwork in terms of progress made and performance standards by asking questions such as:
- What matters most to us while performing our job?
- What does success mean to the team?
- How can we live up to our stated values?
3) Treat everyone with respect. To many, this may be an over used cliché but managers should not lose sight of this advice. Every employee is valuable and should be treated as such. Teams can demonstrate respect by paying heed to the ideas and suggestions of members, by being open with colleagues and sensitive to their feelings, by resolving minor disputes harmoniously and looking continually toward the higher goals, and by being clear and careful when communicating.
4) Follow good communication practices. Communication is one of the most important factors in successful teamwork. Enabling good communication practices does not mean holding meetings all the time. Instead, it means setting an example by remaining open to suggestions and concerns, by asking questions and offering help, and by doing everything you can to avoid confusion or misunderstanding in your communication.
5) Encourage constructive debates. As a leader, your first priority is to build consensus. But a lack of discussion and debate can lead to mediocre decisions. Employees are often afraid to disagree with one another but should be encouraged to debate and dissent constructively and carefully in a manner that spurs creativity and better results within the team.
6) Build consensus effectively. A deadlock in building consensus can lead to frustration within the team and the leader needs to be sensitive to this sentiment. Work with team members to achieve consensus within agreed upon parameters. Probe and question individual team members to discover their real feelings about a proposed solution or project. Be wary of an agreement being struck too quickly which is typically indicative of a false consensus.
7) Set some clear expectations. Are you trying to develop a new product? Are you hoping to come up with more efficient processes, or do you want to do a better job with recruitment? Team members need to be on board about why an activity is taking place to ensure efficiency and success. Bringing team members on board can be as simple as setting some ground rules on punctuality, etc., or more specific in terms of guidelines for offering ideas and suggestions.
At the end of the day, it is the leader who sets the tone in creating high-performance work teams. While they need to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to results that benefit the organisation and employees they also need to focus on purpose, relationships and communication. It can be a thankless job and requires a certain amount of selflessness to do the real work of creating opportunities and removing obstacles for the team and also building team members’ skills and performance without seeking credit or recognition