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6 Foundations of a Supportive Team Environment

6 Foundations of a Supportive Team Environment

Shared Vision

A shared vision in a team environment is more than an agreement of goals; it is a combination of individual aspirations and company objectives that leads to a unified path to success. According to the American Society for Training and Development, teams with a strong shared vision are 12 times more likely to achieve goals than those without. An example is Google, where teams set incredibly ambitious “moonshot” goals that are a part of the company’s mission to organize the world’s information, but that also push individual team members out of their comfort zones.

Communication Techniques

The key to a supportive team environment is effective communication. It refers to delivering clear and concise messages and active listening. For instance, Salesforce conducts short daily stand-up meetings that serve to update the team on their progress and any problems. The same study by the American Society for Training and Development shows that 67% of teams that communicate at least once a day achieve success in their objectives, compared to only 44% of those who don’t. .

Role Clarity and Responsibility

Another vital factor in a supportive team environment is a clear understanding of one’s role and responsibilities. The Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology pubished a study according to which team productivity improves by 23% when roles are identified and understood by every team member. An example can be Microsoft, where each member of a development team has clearly defined tasks that correspond to their skill set. Thus, there is little overlap between team members’ responsibilities, and all stages of the project are covered.

Trust and Safety

A supportive team environment can only be achieved when there is a sense of high psychological safety, or the intuition that one not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with their thoughts. The most recent study is Google’s Project Aristotle, which over the past several years analyzed hundreds of the company’s teams. The results showed that psychological safety is the key to a successful team . It allows for the open exchange of ideas and constructive feedback that help the team grow.

Recognition and Rewards

Finally, recognition and rewarding the efforts of team members is a critical factor in the supportive team environment. Not only does it boost the morale of the team, but also reinforces the behavior that may have led to the success. According to a survey by Deloitte, companies that employ regular employee recognition report 31% lower voluntary turnover . Examples include startups in the technology sector that offer bonuses, stock options, and even public shoutouts during company-wide meetings, which serve to motivate and direct efforts towards the company’s goals.

Distinct Roles

Having clear roles in a team enhances its overall effectiveness and allows for better utilization of multiple strengths. Specifically, as stated in a McKinsey report, role clarity can increase team effectiveness by as much as 25% . Notably, Amazon’s use of team roles that include Product Manager, Data Analyst, and User Experience Designer among others ensures that projects can benefit from the variety of strengths provided by each role .

Responsibility Assignment

It is important for employees to know what is expected of them . To this end, companies such as IBM use matrices that assign tasks to specific roles, matching the requirements of the project to particular sets of skills and responsibilities . In other words, such assignments ensure that there is a minimal overlap of tasks and minimal unexpected action or non-action.

Value of Specialization

Specialization evident in these role assignments and the use of separate roles allows employees to develop deep levels of expertise in those domains that are particularly relevant to each role. A group in Apple, for example, may focus on the interaction of the hardware of a product with the software and user interface, while another group focuses on the specific design and operation of this hardware . This focus makes the final products highly functional and integrated.

Coordination of Efforts

Coordination ensures that the efforts of individual, specialized workers are combined into a larger whole. For example, Toyota’s lean manufacturing system ensures that all roles are seamlessly combined and integrated, from line workers to quality control engineers . This not only increases the productivity of such an arrangement but also fosters a highly cooperative atmosphere.

Role Adaptation

It is also important to ensure that roles can efficiently evolve over time, responding to changing conditions. Google’s project work allows for frequent alteration of roles based on the employees’ growth and the requirements of the projects . These adaptations permit the company to remain flexible and innovative in a changing industry.

Routine Review

Finally, regular reviews of different roles with the organization ensure that current realities and goals of a firm are not lost. For instance, Salesforce has semi-annual role and responsibility reviews that are in line with their company’s six-month reevaluation of strategic planning .

Fair Leadership

Fair leadership is crucial for creating an environment of support where each team member is valued and respected. Harvard Business Review has reported that teams, in which a fair manager presides, are 30% more productive. For instance, the experience of Patagonia is practical, where leaders are taught to listen to each opinion and make every decision behind open closed doors. Still, fair leadership is a multi-faceted notion that involves several main components.

Transparency in Decisions

Firstly, decision transparency is a requirement for fair leadership. The decision itself should have a transparent basis, as well as the criteria by which it was made. Adobe, Inc., for instance, organizes deciusion forums and Q&A sessions where executives explain their decisions. It has led to the perception of fairness by the team and an enhanced sense of ownership.

Consistency in Standards

Secondly, the consistency of standards across the board is a relevant fair leadership tool. For instance, IBM establishes standards based on which employees are going to be reviewed by their managers. These standards are similar across two employees, whether someone is an executive or a subordinate staff member.

Inclusivity Leadership

The promotion of inclusive leadership also is a part of fair leadership as it helps to focus on the existing workforce talent. Salesforce has implemented tailored programs to develop talent with people of color to amplify the talents of the the existing workforce.

Feedback and Equal Opportunities for Growth

Moreover, applicable feedback and similar growth opportunities are the fourth action on fair leadership’s part. Google, Inc. is a practical example where all managers receive training on giving relevant and caring feedback that provides insights into improvement but not a critique path.

Recognizing Specific Achievements

Peceived inequality in recognizing achievements is a strong factor that determines morale. Peer recognition is the stepping-stone for any team, and Zappos has introduced a habit to praise colleagues at work.

Diversity Acceptance

Diversity acceptance is a core activity that allows for the creation of supportive and high innovation level teams. A report by McKinsey states that companies with diverse workforces are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors. At the same time, Cisco Systems aims to increase the teams’ diversity to foster a wider range of ideas with the higher problem-solving capacities. To make an inclusive culture, the employer and the employees should pay attention to the following activities.

Cultivating an Inclusive Culture

An inclusive culture is the one in which people are welcomed and allowed to be themselves. The cultural barriers should be acknowledged, and as there are, and the efforts for overcoming existing biases should be pursued. Implementing policies that support the diversity acceptance allows for creating an inclusive culture for all employees. For example, at Accenture, they run a series of workshops and training sessions above cultural sensitivity and unconscious bias to help employees to understand the differences and feel themselves comfortable and valued.

Policies Supporting Diversity

The diversity policies should encourage diversity, not only recruitment, but also retention and promotion. At Ernst & Young, the policies that should ensure a diverse slate of candidates for every single leadership position have led to an almost 40% increase in the underrepresented minorities in the leadership position. The efforts for creating policies that support diversity require an integration approach as well.

Little Ideas

Little states that the biases are “a combination of negative feelings toward outgroups and oversimplified, categorization schemas.” These ideas should be overcome with the awareness and efforts to understand the problems. At Microsoft, they are socializing an approach that allows for starting dialogues about diversity within teams. Thus the issues of diversity are raised timely, and potential solutions for overcoming the barriers are also discussed.

Benefits of Diverse Teams

A number of different viewpoints provide the wider ranged outputs and effectively influence the problem solving. IBM revealed that its diverse teams working on technology developments and market strategies have produced other outcomes. Thus, the multiple viewpoints and benefits of the diverse team are working in the favour of creating breakthrough outputs.

Training and Development for Diversity Acceptance

Recurring training and development are also required to sustain diversity acceptance and the actions supporting it. At Google, they are running diversity training programs that allow employees to recognize biases and understand how to address them in the working sphere.

Open Communication

Open communication is the cornerstone of a team environment that promotes collaboration and support. According to studies, companies with open dialogue are 25% more productive than those with restricted information flows . For instance, at LinkedIn, the company’s management practices and tools ensure that employees can provide honest feedback to top executives . The following tools and practices can be implemented:

  • Tools that encourage the open dialogue — for example, the company Spotify uses the app Slack, which enables teams to create various channels for projects, discussions, and even socializing, provides team members with a sense of a voice

  • Regular check-ins — the employees strive to become betterf when they feel that they are aligned with the company’s goals and responsibilities, and when they feel valued. At HubSpot, managers conduct weekly one-on-one managers to discuss the progress, concerns, and career paths of the team members

  • Training programs — in every organization, there are common pitfalls restricting the open dialogue. For example, at the company American Express, the mandatory workshops help to identify communication styles and improve the use of techniques in different circumstances

  • Creating a feedback culture — it is not enough to allow the dialogue and creating tools and programs that facilitate it. It is crucial to implement a feedback-oriented culture, as the Netflix does. The things that work can always be improved, and employees are encouraged to provide feedback to each other and the top management in real time

  • Transparency in decision-making — the employees have to understand how and why certain decisions are made, and feel taken into account. At Patagonia, the leadership uses company-wide emails and dualogue team meetings to explain the strategic decisions and the reasoning behind them, and how they contribute to the company’s common objectives and values.

Team Harmony

Team harmony is necessary for enhancing collaboration and minimizing conflicts in the workplace. As a Gallup study indicates, the collaborators “with high harmony teams and workgroups are 50% less likely to have workplace conflicts” and are 20% more productive . Pixar’s approach to team collaboration provides a telling example of how to develop team harmony by organizing a structured and respectful interaction among employees, including active listening to every team member and designing organized presentations in which every member of the team finds his/her place.

Approaches to Encouraging Respect

To achieve team harmony, team members should respect each other. At Johnson & Johnson, a large company with a successful culture of respect, the approach encourages respect by giving it full meaning and designing company-wide programs to emphasize every employees’ importance.

Conflict Resolution Models

The role of an organized approach to resolving conflicts should not be underestimated. To maintain the existing level of team harmony, Google provides trainings for conflict resolution and negotiators from HR. It helps every workplace conflict to be resolved as it appears and give justice through mediation in formal processes .

Concern for Social Bonds

It is evident that social bonds should be nurtured; otherwise, they tend to weaken. The practice of Zappos is illustrative in this regard, given that the company has the extremely popular company culture. It has been designed by organizing workplace picnics, outings, and opportunities for being socially together, which leads to every team member knowing each other personally and, therefore, working better together also in the professional aspects of their lives.

Approaches to Strengthen Communication Skills

Strong communication is essential to prevent conflicting situations and ensure that they are not misinterpreted. Amazon’s experience is tellЧing in this sense, because the company provides such opportunities in the form of workshops that help employees understand each other and oneself better.

Steps Taken by Leaders

According to the experience of Southwest Airlines, it is evident that the leaders should lead by example for team harmony to be preserved, and all their actions, including ones taken by the HR to address issues, similar to the start of this post, should be fair and empathetic.

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