Team-First: Bring Your Team Out of Surviving and Into Thriving


As we’re coming into the last months of the year, it’s an important time to take a look at your company and your teams and ask, “how are we thriving?”

In a year like 2020, it may feel appropriate to asks instead, How are we surviving.” However, it’s time to step away from putting your teams in survival mode.

The last six months may have felt like trying to survive. You’ve been changing goals, adapting organizational structures, and pushing the boundaries of definitions of “flexibility.” Every single team member that put “adaptable” on their resume has been put to the test.

However, survival mode isn’t meant to last forever.

Staying in the survival mindset leads to employee burn-out and can be determinantal as you continue to do “just enough.” Limping along isn’t a success. You either rally and begin to sprint, or you stop altogether.

So how do we rally and thrive?

Start by Creating a True Team

When you look at your team structures, you need to ask, is this a group of people that work interdependently, collaboratively, and are open and clear in their communication?

Or are they talented individuals that work incredibly hard and efficiently next to each other (either figuratively or in purpose)?

Becoming a team-first company is going to be even more important in the coming year as team-first companies move faster and with greater fervor than those with traditional authority-to-employee structures. This is because team-first companies transfer ownership of success from simply you-the leader- to the entire team. The same goes for any missteps or failures.

This transfer of ownership is critical because it develops intrinsic motivation for your team members to want to put their best work in, AND it fosters unity. Unified teams that are highly motivated to hit the goals of the company and beyond are exactly what you want coming out of a year of disruptions.

Getting to Team-First

You can begin to raise a team-oriented culture by practicing collaborative problem-solving. First, you present a problem and then break up into smaller groups to discuss and develop solutions. Then, regroup and present these solutions and break them down on what to pursue or warrants more research.

This promotes every voice to be heard and involved and invites many different approaches to be tried and creatively explored.

Implement Agile Structures.

As you move towards a team-first company, you may consider adopting agile structures for your company. In an agile setup, your entire company is broken up into specific teams to solve specific problems or work towards specific outcomes.

These agile teams are filled with talents from different disciplines and backgrounds that all contribute in different ways. A critical factor to agile teams is the removal of any “up-the-ladder” red tape. Teams often include someone managing the team budget. But otherwise, the agile team doesn’t need to wait for approval to implement their methods to achieve the desired outcomes.

Don’t Forget Your Executives

If you’re already adopting agile systems, make sure you’re not excluding your executive level. By implementing agility at the executive level, you allow large-scale decisions to be made more quickly and with fewer roadblocks.

In this system, every team charged with their own taxonomies have complete ownership over the methods used, the successes made, and the failures endured. This kind of deep ownership allows for changes to be made quickly. Additionally, it ensures decisions are being made by those who own the ins and outs of the issue.

It also adds to the personal accountability of your teams. Which, again, intrinsically motivates them to put forth their best work and feel pride in doing so.

If your team or company has struggled to adapt to the disruptions of 2020, agile structures may be your answer. Read more about how agility can be made to work for your business here.

Value a Culture of Candid Communications

This suggestion may seem obvious, but when transforming your team in order to thrive moving forward, a culture of candidness is essential. Change moves at the speed of light. To get ahead, you can’t afford a company culture of failing to say what needs to be said. Your talented team members need to have the space to give their expertise – even if it’s corrections to another’s proposals or work.

Creating a team-first or agile company will come a long way in developing this type of communication culture. However, you can shift to this type of communication by adopting the practice of company forums. Here persons are open to give their input or pose questions. What’s great about a company forum is that this can be adopted in a remote set up.

Welcome New Resources

Our mass entry into the use of remote workers and technologies has expanded what we’ve available as our team. Or even just opened our eyes to what’s there.

Experts in the field, talented freelancers, and organizational savants can be available to you if you’re willing to adapt and include remote teams. This can include individual hires as you put together remote teams or leaning into resources like StellaPop’s management and consulting services.

As much as this year has thrown us for a loop, there is something to be said about the opportunity that lies ahead. In a lot of ways, the world is your oyster. The doors are open wide for “new.”

You just have to be willing to put in the work to get there.

See Also:

Prepare the Horse: Guiding Your Team Through Change

2021 Business Management Trends CEOs Can Implement in 15 Minutes

Improving Employee Satisfaction: How to Uncover Pain Points


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