It’s no secret that current events throughout the world are causing more division than ever and you may be noticing some of that enter the workplace. Opinions differ on social and health issues, politics creep into everyday conversations, and relationships are being taxed. Not to mention that teams that are used to working closely are now being distanced and working from home. It is more important now than ever to instill an environment within your law firm that encourages teamwork and nourishes the relationships within your office.
The Key Elements to Inspire Teamwork
- Daily Huddle
- Open Dialogue
- Team Building Exercises
Teamwork starts at the top. Without a clear leader, there cannot be effective teamwork. Someone needs to guide the team, set expectations, and encourage the direction of the conversations into productive avenues.
When there is no leader, two things can happen. More than one person fighting for control can quickly become volatile, and on the other end of the spectrum, nobody leading the team can cause for a lackluster collaboration with no direction. In either scenario, effective teamwork is not the end result. Avoid this by designating a leader who can help to guide collaborations in a way that stays on topic and productive.
Meeting daily as a team does a couple of things for teamwork. First, it fosters the bond necessary to trust others in a collaboration. Second, it allows for continued updates on current projects and allows additional input on the progress being made. These daily huddles should not be long, nor should they be without direction. Set the expectation on how each meeting will go and what each team member should come prepared with to ensure that they don’t become unproductive time-sucks.
At Back Office Betties, we keep our daily huddle short and sweet. Each member of the team gets 3 minutes to speak and we have a defined process we work through each day, including a time to bring up any important topics that are needing collaboration. The leader of the meeting has the power to say whether a topic is pertinent to the entire team or if it should be discussed outside of the daily huddle. This helps to keep the meeting focused on topics that are pertinent to the entire team and avoid wasting anyone’s time.
Everyone should have a voice when you’re trying to instill an environment that fosters teamwork. There should not be any fear to speak up and every member of the team should have the chance to feel heard.
This means that the leader of the team needs to be receptive to communication and help to encourage members of the team to speak up. If you’re finding that your staff consistently apologize for asking you questions or bringing things to your attention, it might be that they feel that you are not as open for communication as you hope to be.
Let your team know that you are open to talk and they can come to you any time they need, then watch as your team’s collaboration efforts expand.
Every team needs goals to work towards for efficient collaboration. This is one of the first places to start with teamwork – what goals does the team want to work towards together? Whether that be an improvement of service, creation of a new process, or a way to improve on a current process – set the goal together, and then work towards reaching it as a team.
What’s in it for your team when they work together? You might say, “well, they’re helping the company!” But is someone who may be lower on the totem pole really affected enough by the stats in the company to care? What might cause them to want to add to their plate and throw in with the team when they could just keep to themself? How many ideas are sitting out there in an intern’s head because they don’t feel important enough to speak up?
Offering a reward or praise for a job well done goes far to support your team in ways that make them feel appreciated and encouraged to continue working together and finding solutions to problems.
At Back Office Betties, we grant wishes when a member of the team excels or goes above and beyond in their job. Each team member has a wish list of things they want, ranging from Starbucks gift cards to the hot new makeup palette. When management feels that that team member deserves a granted wish, they pick something off of the list and sends it to the team member as a way to thank them for their hard work. This instills a feeling of appreciation and encourages that extra effort when working together as a team to be innovative or solve a problem.
We also regularly shout out our team members for work well-done and push the rest of the team to show their appreciation for their coworkers. Not only are they being acknowledged and encouraged, but their teammates are encouraged to step it up too.
Team Building Exercises
Team building helps foster better communication between team members and also reveals unknown skills and talents that might not be pertinent to a person’s specific job. Building those connections helps when collaborating, as the person you might not think to ask first for help may actually have a background in exactly what you’re struggling with. Or perhaps you discover that a coworker in another department has a thinking style that compliments your own, revealing that you are perfect brainstorming partners.
Team building also helps to keep your team engaged and ready to work. When being around your coworkers is fun and engaging, the conversation flows more easily and brainstorming can happen naturally.
Even though the team at Back Office Betties works in 3 different states and we all work from home, we do annual team building events in each state. We also do monthly video meetings that help us to feel connected to the team members that we aren’t physically close to.
Hopefully some of these tips help you to bring your team closer together. If you’re ready to expand your law firm’s team and add a dedicated team of virtual receptionists to your firm, sign up for one week free.