Teamwork, effective work teams, and team building are popular topics in today’s organizations. Successful teamwork fuels the accomplishment of your strategic goals. Effective work teams magnify the accomplishments of individual employees and enable you to better serve customers.
Some organizations, such as a product development software company, are formulated into teams that develop the products. Other organizations do not lend themselves as easily to a team environment and are structured around departments such as marketing or human resources. But these types of organizations can benefit from the addition of several teams.
Experiment With the Best Work Teams for Your Company
So, if you're experimenting with work teams, start with a few to determine what team activities your organization can support. Teams require resources and employee time. You'll want to explore with your employees the type of teams that they might enjoy and contribute to most.
For example, let's say a software company has a philanthropy team that decides on giving within the company's STEM mission (encouraging children to take science, technology, engineering, and math classes to prepare them for careers in these areas). The team determines the recipients for the $50,000 or so in annual philanthropy awards the company gives away.
The team also organizes donations for animal welfare, needy families during the holidays, building homes for Habitat for Humanity, and much more.
In another company, a recognition team was formed so that employees could recognize each others' good work, contributions, and teamwork.
When Are Work Teams Effective?
Work teams are an opportunity for employees to learn leadership and team skills. They give employees from across your organization a chance to work with employees they may not always see. They provide employees the chance to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves or their job.
Your work teams are most effective when:
- A diverse group of employees is able to participate.
- You limit the number of teams on which any one employee may participate so that you spread the opportunities across many employees.
- The teams establish a regular meeting schedule.
- You require periodic team goal setting.
- Minutes or notes are posted from team meetings or projects.
- Employees on the teams change regularly so that more employees have the chance to serve on various teams.
Five Work Teams Every Organization Needs
There are five work teams that every organization needs. But keep in mind that many different approaches to team roles and responsibilities have been pursued by organizations. Organizations may also group responsibilities differently depending on their company culture.
For example, one safety committee was asked to take on employee wellness responsibilities in one organization. The team refused, preferring instead to add environmental responsibilities. Another group formed that was more interested in wellness.
With this in mind, these are the five teams most frequently recommended. They do infinite good when they are well-supported and empowered to take action.
- Leadership Team: Often an organization’s senior managers or department heads, the leadership team is the group that must pull together to lead your organization. The leadership team is responsible for the strategic direction of your organization, The leadership team plans, sets goals, provides guidance, and manages your organization.
- Motivation or Employee Morale Team: Known by different names in various organizations, the employee morale team, employee activity committee, or event planning committee (three common team names), plans and carries out events and activities that build a positive spirit among employees. The team’s responsibilities can include activities such as hosting employee lunches, planning company picnics, fundraising for ill employees, and fundraising for philanthropic causes. The team leads the celebration of company milestones, employee birthdays, and the arrival of new babies. The team sponsors company sports teams. You can have fun with this team as the team’s only limit is the imagination of the team members and the wishes of your employees.
- Safety and Environmental Team: The team ensures the safety of employees in the workplace. The team takes the lead in safety training; monthly safety talks; and the auditing of housekeeping, safety, and workplace topics. Recycling and environmental policy recommendations and leadership are provided by the team as well.
- Employee Wellness Team: The wellness team focuses on health and fitness for employees. Most popular activities include walking clubs, running teams, and periodic testing of health issues, such as high blood pressure screening. The wellness team can sponsor whole person wellness activities, such as how to make a healthy lunch, learning about investment products (not investment advice), setting a budge, and more. In many companies, the wellness team sponsors challenges. In one manufacturing company, the team set up a walking challenge to encourage employees to walk more. Each participant was given a pedometer that was downloaded daily at work. At the end of the challenge, every employee who had met the stretch goals was given a coupon for a pair of athletic shoes.
- Culture and Communication Team: The team works to define and create the company culture necessary for the success of your organization. The team also fosters two-way communication in your organization to ensure employee input in the chain of command. The team may sponsor the monthly newsletter, a weekly company update, quarterly employee satisfaction surveys, and an employee suggestion process.
Nurture Your Company Teams
Start several company teams, perhaps several of these examples, and nurture their success. When employees see successful teams, more employees become interested in serving on such teams. The teams make the company a better place to work and provide the opportunity for real employee involvement and commitment.
Teams create a difference in the workplace whether they are ongoing teams or a team that was formed to accomplish a single purpose. Successful teams help you build a true sense of teamwork across your organization.