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Many business leaders I meet in my consulting practice are frustrated by the challenge of getting their teams working together, increasing engagement, and tackling market change requirements. We all realize that the pace of change is increasing, and new global markets make it critical that every team member is focused on the market, rather than internal battles and risk aversion.
In fact, recent studies and surveys continue to show that team member engagement is at an all-time low approaching 30 percent, both within teams and across the field of larger organizations. I’m sure you can imagine how much that impacts any business or startup’s ability to react to changing customer needs and growth opportunities, no matter how insightful their leaders are.
I don’t believe there is any single magic bullet to solve this problem, but I do see and recommend several practices and strategies to mitigate the impact that you can start today, and at least provide a step in the right direction:
1. Create a culture of trust in peers and the business.
If you and your team are confident in each other and proud of your business solution, you will not be afraid to innovate as customer requirements change. Building this culture requires that everyone is recognized for their contribution, sees setbacks as learning opportunities, and celebrates wins together.
Don’t forget that trust and influence are a two-way street. A key way for you to be trusted by peers is to listen. Active listening is more important than active talking. Listen to everyone’s input, encourage people to speak up, and repeat back what you have heard.
2. Promote team-inclusive activities and diversity.
Regular team events and success celebrations, including family members, raise the level of teamwork, trust, and empowerment needed to accept and respond positively to executive and customer feedback. Open office layouts and common relaxation areas are key to this initiative.
Research continues to show that diversity and inclusion are crucial for improved team morale and engagement, as well as in ensuring the team brings its best to the market. These also improve ingenuity and make teamwork more rewarding for all members.
3. Facilitate coaching and mentoring, inside and outside.
Every team member needs stimulation to broaden their horizons, correct weaknesses, and understand competitive strategies. This means sending them to industry conferences, supporting professional organizations, as well as allocating time and roles for internal mentoring and coaching.
On every team, you will find experienced members as well as new ones, experts as well as neophytes. Remember mentorship and coaching are advanced forms of leadership, and develop strong bonds among team members. This is a win-win for the business.
4. Provide frequent peer recognition for individual initiatives.
Many studies have shown that hidden bonuses and infrequent large rewards have less impact on team performance than frequent public recognition from small wins, including saving a key customer, leading a social media campaign that benefits the business, and public speaking events.
We all know that recognition starts with a simple ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ from one team member to another on the same team, from a member of another team, or from an executive or recognized leader. These cost very little and have large returns for all.
5. Highlight career advancement opportunities and examples.
Team members who see peers rewarded by career advancement and extra visibility from team initiatives, rather than just given more work, will be incented to enlist the whole team in their own innovative efforts. Encourage rotation of high-potential team players around the business.
Most successful companies I know work hard at identifying high-potential team members, and give them frequent growth assignments to new projects or staff assignments to top executives. The result is high engagement and reduced loss of talent to the competition.
I believe that you will find these practices to have a high payback, in terms of solidifying a team culture of collaboration and engagement, and in terms of business growth and innovation in the face of change. It’s time to make your own assessment of the team culture in your organization, and take action before it is too late.
You can’t move what you don’t measure
Imagine being called out in a team meeting and having your supervisor read a customer service report that highlights all the great things you did on your last mystery shopping report. The sense of pride you feel, by being called out in front of your peers, is the greatest feeling you can experience as an employee. We provide that tool for you to be able to highlight your top performers as it relates to the customer’s experience. What could be more important?
Besides mystery shopping we also offer Internal Audits, Customer Surveys, Market Studies, Price Audits, Competitive Studies, Integrity Audits, Crowd Sourcing just to name a few.
We would love to partner with you in order to create the kind of service culture that sets you apart. Give us a call and lets chat.
BY MARTIN ZWILLING AND CARL PHILLIPS