We are nearing the start of a brand new year, and for many organizations, it is time to think about what goals to accomplish in the next twelve months. Your organization might have already set its financial, sales, or growth objectives for the coming quarters. But have you set your people goals?
One of an organization’s most underdeveloped assets is its team. Whether those people are employees or nonpaid members like volunteers, your role is to invest in them as their leader.
But are you investing in making the TEAM better?
One of the bases of a highly effective team is UNITY. Unity goes beyond just agreeing on a shared vision or mission. It is the act of working together to accomplish all goals. Call it being like-minded or having synergy. At its root, unity is the process of diverse people coming together to work together as one unit. Everyone moving in the same direction produces energy, excitement, focus, and power. Your team can accomplish major tasks with much less effort due to synchronization.
Here are three quick areas you can focus on to help bring unity to your team.
I once heard the story of a Football Coach who had to pull together players from different clubs for the National Team. He was faced with a short training period to get his guys ready to compete against top players worldwide. In a spark of inspiration, the coach decided to focus on group unity. The coach paired the entire unit off in groups of twos. The couples had to do everything together. The coach even had them wash each other’s faces in the morning. Talk about an awkward and intimate experience! By the end of the training, these guys knew each other WELL. One player said the experience gave them a “strong bond.” The experiment served its purpose. The team quickly started to work as a unit.
While you might not be able to do the same thing with your work or volunteer team, there are other ways to help the crew connect. The best way? Have them spend time together. Cohesiveness doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes time. The more experiences the group has, the stronger their bond as they begin to share memories. Focus on shared values, celebrate wins, and remember that unity is a long-term goal. It needs time and effort to develop.
Is your team collaborative or competitive? While competition can be a good thing in some scenarios, it can be harmful when it comes to team building. What is unhealthy competition? In the team setting, it is when your success means someone else’s failure. Winning as a team is never a zero-sum game.
Being a part of an effective team means that individuals can’t be too greedy, selfish, indifferent, or doubt their other members. They have to work together, and the emphasis should be on the group instead of the individual.
According to Harvard Business Review, one way to focus on collaboration instead of competition is by viewing teammates as resources instead of threats. Leaders can do this by modeling the desired behaviors, rewarding the group instead of individuals, and framing projects needing diverse skills and perspectives.
Without good communication, unity is unattainable. Your team needs to be on the same page to flow together. Communication is required from the top down as leadership shares vision, values, and goals. But a key component in team harmony is peer-to-peer communication. In fact, the team’s interactions are critical to the group’s overall unity.
One of our favorite ways to playfully show communication’s importance when working with teams is through the Line-Up game. This game is ideal for larger groups of 25+ people. Split the room into two or more groups. The only rule for this game is that the team cannot speak. Once everyone is ready, instruct the teams to line up following your various prompts—the group to line up the quickest wins. Common prompts are, “Line up in order of birth month.” “Line up in order of who joined the organization first.” “Line up in order of who has lived in the area the longest.”
The game is hilarious as team members try to shuffle each other around without using verbal cues. The fun part is watching the group get creative in how they communicate. Miming actions, holding up a finger to indicate numbers, or using their phones to type messages. Typically one or two directors emerge in each group as those with natural leadership skills get people organized. It is a great way to observe your team’s personalities and strengths.
VOLUNTEER UNIVERSITY NEWS
We recently released our new book: VOL U 101: Introduction to Volunteering. It may sound like an introductory course in volunteer management, but don’t let the title fool you. The book covers everything from volunteer recruitment to retention and everything in between. It’s a fantastic resource for anyone who leads teams. Get your copy HERE.