How do you create a sense of “we” when teams are spread across the state/country/world? Here are 6 practical strategies we know work because we have seen them first hand.
1. Set a Team Goal. Does your team have a goal that everyone is focused on? Or is It like most teams, where everyone is evaluated by their individual performance goals? Doing that creates a focus on “me.” By creating a team goal, everyone will focus on the team.
2. The “We” of Change. When talking about changes, the team leader should say, “We are all going through this,” rather than, “You are going through this.” This points out that others shouldn’t feel alone or the target of the change. Everyone, including the leader, is dealing with change.
3. Share Learning. A global biotech firm has monthly sessions for employees to share what they learned from their fellow team members. This is done virtually. It brings the team together for a purpose – to share knowledge and learn. Through this event, they are also gaining a larger sense of who “we” are, what “we” know, and what “we” do.
4. Our Team Design. Rather than having the leader design the team, we have seen more and more teams designing the teams they want. For example, at Facebook, new employees in Infrastructure get hired into the company and then get to choose their team. To stay in a certain team, they have to add value. If not, they are asked to leave the team. The teams are filled with people committed to team success.
5. Get the Whole Person. Many teams wait until there are problems to meet face to face. Virtual communication only goes so far. To create a sense of “we” as a team, you need to meet the whole, physical person.
6. Rotate Responsibility. We were working with a division of a pharma company trying to gain a larger share of the market. One of their leadership team problems was their weekly meeting. One person basically ran it: organizing the agenda, facilitating sticky issues, and taking notes. Then, the team decided to rotate responsibility. Each of the 6 leaders took a turn at gathering the agenda and taking the minutes. This simple process changed meetings from “his meeting” to “our meeting.”
Being a team is something people feel. You can’t demand it or enforce it. It has to come from the people. Using these 6 strategies will help create the environment where people feel they are part of something larger than themselves.