It might be a cliché, but it’s no less true for being so: teamwork really does make the dream work. And when it comes to running a successful company, these days it’s all about creating the right working environment.
It’s a competitive market out there and company brand ‘prestige’ is no longer enough to retain top talent – plus, it’s proven that the happier the workforce, the more productive they are. So not only is it cool to be kind, it also makes sound financial sense.
I’ve seen team-building from both sides, having spent many years working in real estate and more recently specialising in recruitment. It’s so easy to get it right, yet so many companies continue to make mistakes that cost them top-notch employees and profitability.
Here are a few of my top tips to creating a happy and motivated team:
• Chemistry: people spend longer with their work colleagues than any other member of their social network – including spouses and other family. So, think strategically when it comes to grouping people together in teams. If there isn’t any spark between them, then they won’t feel as motivated to spend time together and productivity will drop. Look beyond qualifications to wider character traits and partner people up accordingly. Not only will they work harder, but the office will be a happy space and you could be creating life-long friendships too.
• Can you feel it: a company’s culture is almost as important as the pay packet these days. Big names are unable to retain staff on brand reputation alone and employees are keen to look beyond the job spec to explore the wider ethos of the business. Create the right atmosphere and you’ll find staff work harder, commit more and stick around. Win, win.
• Flex it: we are hearing a lot more about flexible working these days as employees struggle to balance work with life. And it’s a key talking point in human resources and recruitment. More enlightened companies are offering staff flexible working hours and in being more accommodating, they are seeing productivity soar. Whether it’s having the option to work from home occasionally or to leave early to see the kids once in a while, you’ll find your staff are prepared to go the extra mile if they see you are on their side.
• Talk about it: however good the raw material, nobody is above a bit of mentoring, and where teams are concerned regular group catch-ups are essential. Not only are they an imperative part of project management, but it’s a good way of getting everyone together to check they’re on the same page and happy with the way things are going. At the same time, don’t forget the odd 1:1 with staff – they might have other points to raise that they’re reluctant to bring up in a public forum. If they know there is an open door to chat with team leaders – and, better still, that they are being listened to, then they will be motivated to work harder.
• Map it out: nobody enjoys working without an endgame and real estate is a particularly ‘driven’ sector. Regardless of their role, take time to discuss career progression at any early stage with all members of the team and map out a plan of action. If they are working towards specific goals, staff will be more focused on the tasks in hand as they strive to reach the next level.
• Make an investment: this isn’t exclusively financial. Employees want to feel valued, and this starts with listening to them and taking on board any feedback they might have about the team or company’s wider work. At the same time, incentive-based goals are also a useful tool – whether that’s team drinks at the end of the month, spot-bonuses for exceptional work or other team-building exercises. The important thing is by investing in top employees today, you will yield greater business benefits tomorrow.
• Show a little respect: trust in your team and be honest with them. They are more likely to stay loyal during the bad times if they understand the lay of the land. Companies ask a lot of employees, particularly in these economically uncertain times, and the least they can do is be straight about the way things are heading. And they’ll be happier to tighten their belts as required if they know that they will be looked after and rewarded in better days.
Work hard, play hard: reward hard work with nights out for a bit of bonding. Business relationships are often cemented over a drink or two and throw some more wholesome team-building activities into the mix early on (there are plenty out there) and you’ve got yourself the makings of a great away day.