5 Tips for Enhancing Team Morale in the Workplace

team morale workplaceIf you are responsible for managing a group of employees, then you should understand how important the concept of teamwork is in the workplace. Not only will it make your job easier, but it will also improve your productivity, your effectiveness as a manager, and your reputation amongst those above you. There are some very simple things you can do to promote positive, cooperative contributions from your employees. Follow these five tips for encouraging team spirit in the workplace:

Establish clearly-defined goals, guidelines, and tasks. If you want your employees to take responsibility for their roles on the team, then you need to make sure they know exactly what it is that they are supposed to be doing. Make it a point to clearly describe every aspect of the project at hand, as well as what you expect from each of the team members.

Delegate, rather than micromanage. Part of having team spirit is acting autonomously toward the team’s goal. When you micromanage, you undermine a person’s ability to be autonomous. It is not only dehumanizing, but also a surefire way to suck the enthusiasm right out of the workplace. Delegate responsibilities to your employees, making sure to be very clear about what you need each one to accomplish, and to what standards, and then allow them to find their personal methods for working most constructively. Whenever employees know they are responsible for the outcome of their work, they are less likely to pass the responsibility or the blame on to a coworker and more likely to find ways to work together and support each other.

Provide employees with the tools they need to be successful. Prepare employees for a job well done by providing the education, mentoring, resources, tools and support they need. This makes them feel valuable and boosts morale, which promotes teamwork.

Communicate with the team on a regular basis. Have team meetings as needed so that employees can express to you any questions, concerns, or suggestions they might have, and so that you can provide them with useful feedback and encouragement.

Offer team incentives. Once you establish the guidelines for a new project, offer the team a reward for timely, quality completion. The reward could be a paid lunch out, a company party, or a paycheck bonus. Give employees a few options and let them decide together, as a team, which incentive they prefer.

How Is Trust Built?

how trust is built“Trust is a peculiar resource; it is built rather than depleted by use.” ~ Unknown

To build trust, we must use our self-awareness and self-management skills which we’ve acquired over time. Determining the level of trust we need to cultivate depends on the connection which we identify with others. For example, the barista who makes my coffee drink gets a different level of commitment to trust with me that the woman I share my life with. The project manager or resource coordinator of a business account gets a different level of commitment than a field engineer does. Now, none of these holds more or less value, simply some don’t require as much attention as others. It really comes down to focus and priority.

By using social awareness skills, we need to ask others what needs to happen to increase the current level of trust. Being sure to actually listen to the answer. This helps build trust, and overall deepens the relationship.

Here are few key points I’ve found that aid in building trust:

1. Open Communication – The willingness to share ourselves and what is important to us with others often helps establish a common understanding. If done honestly and wholeheartedly, the driving force of positive actions will allow for a foundation to be created, one in which can be used for continued growth.

2. Consistency in Words, Actions, and Behavior – Following through with what we say we are going to do is a huge part of building trust. When we commit to something, regardless of size, it’s still a commitment and must be followed through in order for it to have any value. Whether it be following through with a return phone call, arriving on time for dinner plans, meeting a school/work related deadline, or planning long term family goals. Any of these can “make or break” a friendship/relationship. No matter what size the commitment, no matter what level of importance, what we say to others as to what we’re going to do, it’s up to us to follow through. Otherwise, we can’t be taken seriously. We eventually establish a characteristic with others that we are “true to our word(s)” and display respect and integrity, or allow for ourselves to be seen as one who cannot be trusted, and often at times considered a liar. This is a very difficult place to be in and most often requires a deep look in the mirror. Otherwise, we’ll never be able to repair what we’ve damaged.

3. Avoid Giving Mixed Signals – How we communicate, whether it be via the written word, spoken word– consisting of the tone of voice, and/or body language – determine the level of accuracy which others will perceive us. The signals we send to the people in our relationships are made through proactive conversation and feedback. When we express feelings, we express the truth. More often than not, these expressions are raised to a heightened level through our reactions and body language, regardless of the words we choose. In a world that is saturated by text messaging, which is usually limited to 140 characters or less, our “on the fly” lifestyles that we’ve adapted in the fast paced and fairly disconnected society, it seems that we rarely establish an accurate means of dialogue. I’ve seen some of the world’s best authors and speakers completely misconceived due to a single letter typo, improper punctuation, or quick witted answer.

Something to consider: People will always trust what they see over what they hear. Actions speak louder than words… so focus on following through with everything you commit to. Otherwise, why bother?

Can Storytellers Be Part Of A Domino Project?

domino project azWhen there are people who share a common goal, things happen. Progress happens. Leadership happens. Results happen. Awesome happens.

Each one of us has something different to offer the world. We have the ability to connect with people that share a common goal or dream. When we embrace what is important to us, ideas are shared and stories begin to surface.

The other night, I attended a collaboration event of local writers to the Phoenix area. Inspired by The Domino Project, both Tyler Hurst and Jeff Moriarty organized its focus on writers and storytellers who are looking to do more with their current projects.

There were about 15 of us, each with something to share and discuss with others what we think we need to do, to better ourselves. Most of us seem to be at a stop with our current (projects) because (1) we either feel that our content is lacking or (2) we don’t know how to get to the next step.

After Tyler and Jeff spent a few minutes going over what brought us all together and we answered some questions. We then proceeded to go around, one by one, and describe what each of us could teach others about storytelling, as well as, the things we would you like to learn from it. There was a great mix — from technical writers to creative writers, from screenplay and sketch work writers to humorists and bloggers.

I’ve never considered myself a writer, I probably never will. I’m not sure why but I can say that while growing up and going to school, my least favorite classes and activities were any of those that had a lot of writing. I’m not 100% sure how or why, but I think some of it stems from early communication courses. Both verbal and non-verbal communications are of the essence when it comes to interacting with others. And considering that 15-20% of what we say (in words… by themselves) are effective. While the remaining 80-85% pertains to the tone of voice and body language, I guess I never saw the point in writing.

When it came time to share with others what we were doing and why we were there, I broke my introduction into two parts. The first part was a brief history of how and why I communicate with others while emphasizing on the emotional intelligence and the use of relevant and effective analogies. The second part was a description of my current book series project and the reasoning behind it, which you can find here.

This is how the first part of my introduction was summarized:

Analogies – are seedlings to stories. During some time working in the IT industry, we found that most clients needed to have a good understanding as to what was going on with their network infrastructure, most being medical, legal, or finance professionals – their focus was their industry. Learning about what they did and understanding their lingo, per se, allowed us to use various analogies, which gave us the opportunity to communicate with them effectively and efficiently.

Engagement – connecting with who you communicate. While we experience life as it comes, we learn that through storytelling, we create a connection with our audience. Listeners and readers, leaders and followers, and, speakers and writers; each and not limited to their own way in relating to others. Focusing in on how we connect with others allows for us engage and continues the way we relate.

With the use of analogies, storytellers are able to engage with their audiences. While we are still able to individually recognize and respond to those we are speaking with, we also create something; a bond, a common and distinct connection. Sometimes the fragments of our past, help align us to project our futures. So, by using analogies for the sake of engaging with our audience(s) — keep in mind who you are speaking to and what common objectives are sought.

How do you effectively communicate with others outside your industry?

Community Leadership

community leadershipHave you ever been asked to help with a great cause to share and make a difference within your community?

A couple of months ago, I was approached by Shawn Murphy of Achieved Strategies to see if I wanted to contribute a guest blog post. It was a blog series titled “Revive and Thrive” and its focus was for this new year of 2011. Of course, I was willing to participate and help add value to the cause. Being able to contribute alongside the many great members of the leadership community was a great privilege.

At the time, I focused on four key areas in which I found to be important based on discussions with leaders from several communities, such as Lead Change Group, Twitter’s #CustServ chat which is focused on Customer Service and is held every Tuesday night at 9 PM Eastern Time, and those from the 2010 World Business Forum Blogger’s Hub.

In a post titled “What’s Next” – The four areas in which I felt were important for us to ‘Revive and Thrive in 2011’ were: Relationships, Following, Leading, and Experience.

I believe that each of the four, are key areas in which we need to focus on during the rest of this year. The relationships we have in our lives today are paving the way we choose to live our lives tomorrow. With positive communication, we are able to help others achieve their goals and dreams. If any of these become hindered, we need to recognize and respond to it immediately. Almost all problems stem from lack of and/or poor communication.

The next two key areas I feel go hand and hand, a ‘yin and yang’ of principals if you will. Following and Leading. This is always a great topic of discussion, as many times people will ask “What makes a great leader?” “How can somebody lead all the time and never follow?” “If somebody is following others, how are they able to lead?” – I think you get the idea.

The fact of the matter is that both are equally important and tend to feed each other. Who we follow today are those we will lead tomorrow. And, those who we lead today will help those we want to follow tomorrow. If we continue to follow the “Define, Learn, Do” model – we continue to keep things moving in the right direction. Forward.

Lastly, I touched on the importance of Experience. All of us are here for a very short period of time. When we are able to connect with others, we are opening the doors to new experiences. Whether it is personally, professionally, or spiritually – what we do today cannot be taken away from us. There is so much opportunity available to us, only we can make the decision to make our goals and dreams become realities.