In college, I had the opportunity to play rugby at a small private school in Santa Barbara. These were some of the best times in my life as I created lifelong friends, learned how to be a teammate and, the hardest part of all, lived in such a beautiful place. I also tried to convince my parents I could do the six-year plan, but that didn’t work out.

The captain during my freshman year, Maury Hayashida, was from South Africa, where rugby is extremely popular. Many of us were rookies to the sport, and Maury told us the game would require greater team effort than any sport we had ever played:

“When you have the ball in your hands, no one will be there blocking for you, so go hard, but just know there will be 14 of your teammates right behind you, ready to pick up that ball and continue to move forward.”

For some reason, that statement stuck with me and transferred over to my professional life.

The success of what you do will come down to the people you choose to work with. Getting those around you to see your vision and then get total buy-in is what you should aim towards. But how do we do that?

Here are five ideas to help you improve your team unity.

1. Engage in meaningful (in-person) dialog.

Even in today’s world, where text messaging and emails are the new norm for communication, nothing can replace the value of meaningful face-to-face conversations. Take time to sit down and get to know your employees. Learn what their personal and professional goals are so as you make decisions for the business, you will have a better sense of how this may line up with their desires as well.

2. Show your appreciation.

In research about employees who are unhappy, their number one complaint is that they do not feel appreciated by their bosses. We all want to feel like we have a place and that we are contributing to something greater than ourselves. Letting others know this more often goes a long way.

Be specific about the appreciation so the individuals on the team realize you notice the little things they are doing.

3. Listen to everyone’s ideas.

Your staff is in the trenches on a daily basis, allowing them the opportunity to see what is working and where improvements can take place. So the next time you are thinking of an idea for your business, I would strongly encourage you to get opinions from your entire staff. Schedule a monthly meeting with your team with the sole purpose of discussing as a group any new ideas and watch what will happen.

4. Trust your team members.

This is an area I have had to grow into over time. When you first start out in this business, you are often advisor, secretary, janitor, CFO and sometimes counselor to clients. So as things grow, you have to delegate and trust those around you and not micromanage.

People act the way they are treated, so trust and give ownership to them. Obviously, you should have systems in place so that you can make sure projects are on track and being executed the way you desire.

5. Be spontaneous and have a little fun.

Everyone wants to have fun at work. Now, “fun” can be interpreted a little differently by everyone, but the key is there should be a sense of enjoyment and being able to be yourself at work.

Fun happens when people feel well-connected, where there’s a mutual respect, open communication, acceptance of who people are, and collaboration.

When teams are working well together, it makes it easier to be spontaneous and have some fun. Sometimes we all need a break from the seriousness of business.

I hope this topic sparks some ideas that you can implement with your team. As always, I look forward to continuing to share different strategies that will help you grow your practice.

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