Teamwork starts at the top, according to Martin Lanik, author of The Leader Habit: Master the Skills You Need to Lead in Just Minutes a Day, which will be released on April 19.
A sense of interconnectedness and cohesion among work team members is an important part of building a culture of continuous improvement and increasing employee performance and retention, writes Lanik, CEO of leadership-readiness platform Pinsight. “If individual team members don’t coordinate their efforts, overall productivity suffers. As a leader, you must ensure that your team is operating as a cohesive unit.”
Lanik suggests that leaders practice the following four exercises for five minutes each day:
1. Advocate for cohesion. “Teams are more effective when the individual members coordinate their efforts and share a common sense of purpose or unity,” Lanik writes. “Practice explicitly discussing the importance of the team acting as one and how that benefits the team using this exercise: After reviewing the agenda or discussion points for a team meeting, emphasize the importance of team cohesion by saying, ‘It is very important that we act as one; it will help us better achieve our shared goals.’”
2. Establish daily team-building habits. Team building activities aren’t limited to retreats. “You can also facilitate stronger cohesion by creating connections between team members and others in the organization on a daily basis,” Lanik writes. “After greeting someone (in an email or in person), connect them with another person that could help them or whom they would just enjoy meeting by saying, ‘I think you would really enjoy meeting [blank] because blank.’ For example, you could connect people who have worked on similar projects or share similar hobbies,” Lanik suggests.
3. Discuss a procedural improvement. There is always room for improvement when it comes to encouraging employees to work together. After discussing a task with someone, find a small procedural improvement by asking, ‘Who do you depend on to get your work done, and how can you better coordinate efforts with this person?’”
4. Link individual assignments with your team’s purpose. Sometimes, employees need to be reminded how their own work connects to the goals of their team and organization. “After reviewing what someone is working on, highlight how that project or task supports the team’s mission by saying, “Your work on [blank] is very important for our team’s mission to [blank],’ Lanik writes. “For example, ‘Your work on the social media campaign is very important for our team’s mission to reduce smoking in young adults.’”