What is a strong team? A team that is driven, where every member plays an equal role, one that shares a strong bond with each other, one in which everyone is learning, growing and satisfied.
If you go on Google and search for tips to run a successful startup, one of the first things to pop-up among those tips is to build a strong team. Good collaboration ensues when the team members are in sync with each other. Strong teams are especially important for startups given the dips and peaks it goes through, especially in the initial phases. Here are a few tips to build such strong teams.
- Encourage office pranks (not harmful ones of course).
A strong team is where the team members share a strong bond with each other. Though they may seem silly, office pranks are one of the best ways to achieve that. Pranks encourage creative thinking and healthy camaraderie between the team members. It is a great way to break the ice and also get to know people at a personal level.
With their touch of humor, they can help build a creative and vibrant office culture. A fun work environment is often results in your employees looking forward to their work day, instead of dragging their feet. IDEO is one company that encourages pranks in their offices. Of course, there is always a line to draw when it comes to practical jokes.
- Arrange meetings and lunches with thought leaders in your industry.
A strong team is driven, motivated and yearning to do more, learn more and prove itself. One great way to keep your team motivated is by arranging meetings with thought leaders in your industry. Thought leaders, like Steve Case and Ted Leonsis, usually have a lot of stories to share and insights that only they are privy to. They predict trends, anticipate problems, and analyze solutions. These kinds of interactions will motivate your team to take initiative, gain more knowledge and develop their career.
- Offer unlimited vacation or unlimited work from home.
It sure isn’t easy to make this work, but you won’t be the first. Many companies like Netflix, Virgin, Prezi already did. Before you misunderstand, this doesn’t mean that employees can take leave for months together regularly and expect a pay from you. It’s just that whenever they feel like they need some time off to recharge themselves, a leave balance won’t stand in their way.
In fact, enabling this sort of flexibility is a way to delegate responsibility to your employees. It’s almost like saying – “There you go, you can take as many leaves as you want. We trust your judgment.” If you select the employees with the right attitude, they won’t take advantage of this benefit and it might also build a sense of self-monitoring in them, a sense of ownership.
- Give public appreciation for innovative thinking and private appreciation for high performance.
When someone comes up with a great innovative idea, appreciate them publicly and give them the ownership to plan and execute the idea. This will encourage everyone in the team to push themselves to think outside the box.
Once the idea is executed and if the team member did a great job, show your appreciation in private or in the form of a bonus. Publicly appreciating a star performer can cause a rift in the team and before you know it, everyone in the team will try to achieve individual goals instead of team goals.
- If someone has a new idea, make them in charge of it.
One great way to build up team collaboration is to keep give a chance for everyone to develop leadership skills and team management skills, rather one leader-like employee dominating the scene all the time. This can give rise to bad and authoritarian team dynamics, which is never good. For instance, when an employee comes up with a brilliant and practical idea, make him/her in charge or the CEO of this idea, from the inception to the execution of the project. Everyone, including the founders report to this person.
Not only will this technique encourage your employees to come up new innovative ideas, but encouraging meritocracy will foster healthy team dynamics which is very important to build a cohesive happy team.
Building a strong team is one of the most important, if not the most, tasks of a startup founder. It starts with choosing the right people for sure, but it is also about you, the founder. You have to make very conscious efforts to build a strong team that is united and will withstand any high-stress situation together.
The toughest thing to do is to create a complete sense ‘WE’ in the team that can and will over power the sense of ‘I’. This is much harder than it sounds, since at some level our natural instinct is to look out for ourselves.
That said, making collaboration and stewardship one of your startup’s core foundational value and repeatedly reinforcing this idea in the minds of your employees through your actions and words can help you weave a cohesive culture.
Hiver helps organizations collaborate from their email inboxes. It allows teams to share email conversations and collaborate on sales, hiring, support, project management and operations. Hiver is a small team, solving a large problem for a large number of businesses.