For centres and services to be effective and provide a positive working culture, teams need to work well together. As a Centre Director, you are the leader who sets the tone for the way that your team works together. Here’s 10 actions to take to promote teamwork, reduce conflict and ensure that your service is a place where your team wants to work:
1. Be a role model
It almost goes without saying but as a leader, the educators and other staff are watching and listening to what you do. If you practice what you preach in regards to working well with others, your team will learn from you and follow your example.
2. Communicate well
Consistently be clear, honest, respectful and transparent in your communication with your team. This applies to all types of communication - in person, by email, on the phone, by text and at meetings.
3. Induct new staff members well
Providing a thorough induction and orientation for new people to your team takes time and effort but is necessary when it comes to having a well-functioning team. This mentoring will assist the new person to be productive more quickly, reduce misunderstandings and help them fit into the existing team more quickly.
Be aware of the team dynamics by listening and being aware of what is happening. Be observant and ask questions especially when problems arise so that you identify the real issues rather than making assumptions.
5. Make your expectations clear
Do not leave your team guessing in regards to policies, procedures, decisions or the requirements that you have in regard to the team culture. And then follow the mantra “inspect what you expect”. To put it simply, if you expect that something is done in a certain way or by a certain time, check that it has been done. If it hasn’t been done, reset the expectations and repeat until things are running smoothly.
6. Provide team building activities
These can be a mixture of formal and informal activities. Examples are team meetings, social events, celebrate birthdays and occasions.
7. Encourage everyone to contribute
Value each educator and staff member by asking for their opinion and giving them the opportunity to contribute to making decisions where possible. In meetings, encourage the quieter team members to join in and add their perspective by asking for their opinion. Encourage more experienced or more vocal staff to be respectful and to listen when others speak or have input in some way.
8. Look for project opportunities
Sometimes team members who have difficulty working together and are often in conflict each other, can develop a new appreciation for each other professionally (and even personally) when they work on a task or project together. Examples might be making changes to the environment, reviewing a policy or planning a social event. This can also be an opportunity for staff who don’t normally work together to do so.
9. Promote a learning culture
Build professional respect between team members by encouraging them to share what they’ve learned. Have they read something that would be useful to another educator or the whole team? Or has someone attend some training and found out about a new resource or some new information? These professional conversations are positive topics and build bonds within teams.
10. Resolve conflict
Finally, conflict is something most of us would rather avoid but as leaders, it is your role to help your team when a problem arises. Set expectations within your service about how conflicts are to be resolved. Learn to recognise when you need to step in, remember to listen, give each person a chance to be heard, gather the relevant information, assist with the development and selection of solutions, trial the solution, review it and if the conflict is not resolved, repeat the process.
Great teamwork is not achieved in one day so don’t give up, be persistent and determined and try one action at a time. Finally, don’t forget to praise individual staff and the entire team when you see them working well together!
If you need assistance with the teamwork in your service, we’re here to help. Click here to contact us.