One of the main challenges of any workplace is creating a team that works well together. The nature of work is that people don’t really get much choice in who they work with. Sometimes, colleagues get on fine but don’t really feel connected and, worse, some colleagues openly dislike each other and make the whole environment feel uncomfortable.
Communication is often heralded as the key to having happy staff but is this truly enough? Are there other things you can do to bring people into the fold, to make employees feel like more?
Get the Look
Have you ever noticed that groups of friends tend to dress in quite similar ways? The Mean Girls rule of wearing pink ties the clique together and turns them into a single unit. This is why so many companies still use uniforms: it brings people together within the brand, in this case that brand is the “Plastics”.
Having a dress code could be useful though you don’t necessarily have to wear pink on Wednesdays. Try to keep your code as simple and inclusive as possible, though. Don’t start excluding particular hairstyles or insisting on gendered clothing (we’re looking at you, high heels).
But you don’t need to insist on a uniform. A company like Dynamic Gift can provide you with all kinds of branded goods from lanyards to backpacks, USBs to novelties. Giving your staff these things can reinforce your brand but is also a nice way to include them. For example, you might present a new employee with a branded mug after they pass their first week as a way of including them and welcoming them to their team.
Part of the Crew, Part of the Ship
Remember in the Pirates of the Caribbean films when the fish people start chanting “part of the crew, part of the ship” and it’s really creepy? Well, you should be aiming for something a little less extreme but the sentiment is the same: when people feel connected to each other and have a common purpose or belief, they tend to work well.
Having a diverse team doesn’t always ensure perfect inclusivity every second of the day because this would be unrealistic. You might not need everyone’s input all the time but you should be prepared to put systems in place to make sure that good ideas can come from anywhere, everyone has a voice and no-one is left behind.
There is a big difference between agreeing on everything and working well together to create a brilliant solution. Ultimately, most meetings are about discussing conflicting ideas to reach a compromise of sorts. If you want someone to feel that they are truly included, it’s important that even if their idea isn’t picked, that they had a say and they were let down gently. If you want a cohesive team, you have to learn to have hard conversations without hurting anyone.
Celebrate What You Achieve Together
Celebrating achievement comes naturally to some businesses, especially where the team is focused on one project at a time. For other businesses, celebrating is a bit more hit and miss because there aren’t any particular moments to pause and look back. This is a real shame because celebrating achievements together is the perfect way to create a cohesive team.
But be warned: The Wolf of Wall Street shows that over-celebrating and going wild can have a really detrimental effect. Not only do people stop achieving because the celebrations happen anyway but they begin to feel stressed by the pressure of constantly doing new things. And, in the case of The Wolf of Wall Street, the culture of celebration becomes all-encompassing and is actually detrimental to quality of life.
The keyword here is ‘proportion’. Celebrating a new employee’s first week is a nice way to mark the occasion but that doesn’t mean you need to celebrate every week. You need to think about what you want to gain from a celebration too. Do you want to give someone confidence, make them feel proud or are you looking for a way to give someone a lift after working really hard?
A cohesive team isn’t just about getting along; it’s also about becoming part of the culture. As a brand, you need to decide what sort of culture that is but you also need to be open to change. If these movies show us anything, it’s that people and teams will grow over time. You just have to nurture them in the right direction.