When is a team not a team? When they don’t feel like a team.
So how do you make sure your team does feel like a team?
Make sure you allow time for people to feel like a team before starting your meetings
Not in a structured “let’s go around the table” kind of way. Just let people talk. Especially now, when people are mostly isolated in one form or another. For some of us, this can be awkward. Or it can seem like we are wasting valuable time when we should be doing the real work. Making sure people feel like a team – feel like they belong – feel like somebody cares about them is the real work.
You can help encourage this by arriving a minute or two early and starting the chat with whomever shows up first. If people join a meeting where chat is already going on, it feels more natural for them to join in.
You will know when it is time to pivot into the meeting agenda items. And people will be much more relaxed and ready to work together as a result of this small investment up front. Even if some people don’t talk, they will still benefit from listening to others. It helps everyone to feel like a team.
Leave a few minutes spare at the end of your meetings to feel like a team
How many times have you felt rushed at the end of a meeting? Where the leader scrambles to cover the last of their agenda items? Or people have to jump off to their next meeting? Where you don’t get closure on whatever was just agreed (or not)? This doesn’t help people to feel like a team.
Here are three things that can really help to shift this dynamic:
1. Don’t overstuff the agenda. 90% of meetings are scheduled for one hour. And 50% of the time, people are scheduled for another meeting back-to-back. Running over is the number one cause for stress at the end of a meeting and can be avoided.
2. Don’t overstuff the agenda. It is hard to find time on everyone’s calendars to be able to schedule meetings – especially with most of us working remotely these days. Don’t be tempted to cover everything on your laundry list in one meeting. Prioritize what are the most important things that need to be done. Today.
3. Don’t overstuff the agenda! Schedule your meetings for one hour but only include 45 minutes’ worth of agenda items. And if it’s likely to be a contentious meeting – schedule it for longer. This will ensure you have time at the beginning and end for the important business of helping people to feel like a team.
Reach out to individual team members in between meetings – for no particular reason
Everyone is busy. Many of us are cocooned in our own little bubbles, consumed with our own priorities. All of us need to know somebody cares about us. I cannot stress how important this is – especially now. Actually, I found this out quite by accident this week… by sending a really quick text to a work colleague that simply said “Hey – just checking in on you”. What I got back was “Thank you. That really made my day”.
Reaching out to people doesn’t have to be a big deal for you. It might be for them. Who knows what kind of a day they might be having? Or how alone they might be feeling?
Try this stuff out (either as a leader or member of a team) and let me know how it works out for you… Does it help you and your teammates feel like a team?