Six Ways To Build Team Camaraderie

Brian Thomas, VP & CIO, Swope Health Services

Having a cohesive unit in the workplace ensures team camaraderie and, ultimately, success on any project you may take on. “It takes a village” isn’t just a saying that applies to raising children. It also applies in the workplace, on every level of management. As the CIO, it’s your job to build, encourage and foster that camaraderie so that it infiltrates every sector of your team. That’s how goals are met, marathons won, and deals made.

It’s about more than the end game, though. It’s important to have a cohesive team working in unison like a well-oiled machine through every stage in the process. When a team is disjointed, any bump in the road could derail the train. When acting in unison, a team can weather any storm.

According to LinkedIn, employees who work in an environment marked by friendship and laughter will be more creative and less stressed, which equals higher productivity and increased innovation. In addition, collaboration in pursuit of a common goal bridges gaps and makes people feel more connected to one another.

So, how can you go about building team camaraderie?

Address conflict head on. Most people think that if they can just avoid conflict and keep the peace with other members of the group, they can avoid the uncomfortable disagreements that can damage a team. However, just the opposite is true. Conflict that’s not resolved properly will fester over time, causing far more damage to the team than if it were discussed head on earlier.

Respect the differences in your team. Everyone brings something unique to the team dynamic. Not everyone is good at leading a meeting, and not everyone is good at strategizing. The important thing is that every team member brings his own strengths to the table. As the CIO, it’s important for you to recognize the value of each person. When you value a team member for his strengths, this bolsters the strengths of everyone else in the room.

Let each team member own their portion of the project. Every project, group, and team needs a leader — that’s a fact. However, when that leader tries to own every aspect of the project and has trouble trusting others or delegating tasks, the rest of the team feels under-valued, under-appreciated, and under-utilized. Delegating properly means you are giving a piece of the project away to each team member, entrusting them to follow through and own that portion. Your team members will then feel like they’re integral to the outcome, rather than just a cog in the machine.

Involve the team in something other than work. Team building begins with people, and when you foster that basic desire to learn about one another and motivate one another, you’ll see results in the workplace. Forget the competitions that pit employee against employee to achieve the highest sales for the month. Instead, establish an office goal, such as a health or fitness plan. Give each member of the team a step tracker and reward the person with the most steps taken each month. Start with a simple goal, a clear objective, and a healthy way to encourage team work, and you’ll be able to break the ice and bring the team together.

Break out of the norm. What do teachers do when their kids need to get out of the classroom setting and into an adaptive and interactive learning experience? They take a field trip. Your team needs a break too. You don’t always have to hold stifled meetings in the board room. Take them out for coffee, treat them to lunch, or suggest a casual meeting outside on a nice day under a shady tree. Sometimes a change of scenery can go a long way toward re-charging everyone’s batteries, inspiring a new line of thinking, or sparking a creative idea.

Celebrate successes. It’s important to share team successes on a project that benefits the company. Foster this sense of connection and commitment between peers after facing a common challenge, working together to achieve success, and coming out on top. By sharing those stories and recounting how everyone overcame obstacles to achieve the desired result, you’ll see a huge boost to morale.

In the end, it’s all about bringing positivity to the team and fostering an environment of open collaboration, says the Harvard Business Review. As CIO, you can achieve that by:

  • Maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends
  • Supporting one another
  • Avoiding blame and forgiving mistakes
  • Inspiring each other’s work
  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the team’s work
  • Treating everyone with respect, gratitude, integrity and trust.

Remember, no matter how smart, talented or driven you are, your organization’s success ultimately rests with your ability to build, nurture, and inspire a great team.

[This piece was originally published on Divergent CIO, a blog created by Brian Thomas, VP & CIO at Swope Health Services. To follow him on Twitter, click here.]

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