Play Nice

By Hannah Wallace February 28, 2007

When the members of your company team aren't playing nice or producing winning results, James Rollo says it's time to strategize and restructure. That means examining the roles of employees, sometimes from the top down, to make sure you've got the right employees in the right positions working together effectively.

"The world is a lot more complex," says Rollo, president of Competitive Advantage Consultants in Sarasota, who has helped General Electric, AT&T and a variety of government and nonprofits with organizational development. "People have to share their skills and knowledge."

Turnover, quality issues, interdepartmental conflicts and the same problems cropping up again and again are all signs of a problematic company structure, he says. That's where the concept of "teaming" enters. "People aren't thinking about themselves as a team, but as their individual functions," Rollo says. "New projects take a long time from idea to getting implemented because they can't get through the bureaucracy." To escape the quagmire, Rollo offers these tips for developing a cohesive team.

Team building tips

1. Start out with a mission. Think about what you're trying to accomplish: quality service, producing a new product, etc. Make sure your "core purpose" satisfies your customers.

2. Develop a set of targeted goals. "What are your goals in cost, quality and delivery?" Rollo asks. "They're usually driven by the people you serve."

3. Outline the team's roles and responsibilities. It may become apparent that some responsibilities need to be shared and some delegated or transferred. "If you are not clear on missions, goals and responsibilities, a team will falter, no matter how good the relationships," Rollo says.

4. Assess memberships. "Step back and ask, 'Do we have the right people on the bus?'" Rollo says. Is a technical person missing? Can our supervisor take us to the next level?

5. Outline expectations. Develop a code of conduct and a strategy for conflict resolution for employees who will be working together, as well as detailing expectations and how each person fits into the whole.

6. Develop a communication plan. Decide how often to meet and how to communicate, via conference calls, face-to-face or e-mail. "Make sure the agenda is clear, especially with conference calls because you can't see their faces and you lose track of people because you're not looking at them," Rollo says.

7. Use team-building training. A session or two on different work styles and personalities can be helpful. "You may need to tap into a creative person when you want change," Rollo says. Effective listening and basic communication skills go a long way. "Team rope courses help build some sense of teamwork, but you have to come back and get the work done," Rollo says. "If you don't have the framework, it's only half the equation."

8. Always include auditing and feedback. "Are we accomplishing our goals? Are the roles still the way they should be? Every four months, step back and ask, 'How well are we doing?'" Rollo says. Use surveys, group discussions or informal talks.

Filed under
Show Comments