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4 Team Building Hacks to Create a Dream Team

4 Team Building Hacks to Create a Dream Team

By now, you must have figured that the people you hire have a lot to do with how successful your company is going to be. This is why you can see many companies out there trying to personalize their recruitment process to look for the specific character traits and skillsets that can be easily teamed up and allow people to work together efficiently.

Yeah, that can certainly be a difficult task. And let me tell you something, even if you manage to do an excellent job during the recruitment process, it’s going to be hard to get to the dream-team phase.

All of the HR manuals out there make this part of business sound too boring and generic. It seems that somehow, in the process of increasing revenue and cutting down expenses, people have forgotten that it’s the connection that matters; that spark that ignites productivity when there is chemistry within a team.

Without further ado let’s get down to business. Here are some tips on how to create a team everyone would like to be a part of.

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1. Reshape Interview Process

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    In the last couple of years, we have seen some really interesting questions that were standard during job interviews in some of the biggest companies in the world. Many of you may have thought to yourself, “Why didn’t I come up with this? It’s so cool!” Well, to be honest, it’s good that you didn’t. Even, Laszlo Bock, former head of human resources at Google, admitted that those have proven to be terrible tools to identify the best potential employees.

    You won’t make any mistake if you sit down and write some of the questions. In the end, if you create a question, you will be the one who knows best what kind of response works best. A good start would be to write down your business goals and what it takes to achieve them, as well as what it took to get to the current state of your business. Check if the candidates have the same mindset as yours, as it is really important to be on the same page.

    2. Create a Positive Working Atmosphere

    There are several crucial things that you should always keep in mind when trying to create a dream team. Organizational culture, relationships between team members and supervisors and, of course, the possibility for personal development.

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    Everything should start and end with a conversation. This is why, right from the start, you need to encourage co-workers to exchange all the information that has value for team progress. The best way to make the employees feel that they belong in the organization is to feed their need to feel like they are contributing in more than one way. If you keep an open form of communication with them, especially during meetings, there is a great chance that their paycheck won’t be the only incentive in their motivation repertoire.

    Also, try to bring diversity to the workplace. There are some really cool software tools that can lift the team’s spirit by spicing things up with mini games. For instance, you can use time-tracking software like Toggl, Hubstaff or RescueTime to create multiple “timed goals” for each team member and organize a competition with symbolic rewards. This game will also increase time-management skills for both you and the team.

    3. Become a Great Leader

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      You already possess most of the qualities that make a good leader. You just need to embrace them and let them work out for you. Just wait and you will see, some of them are embedded in our human nature.

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      Let’s start with honesty. Honesty is a characteristic found in all great team leaders and when you practice it, it leaves you with that great feeling in your chest. When you make honesty a key virtue, you can expect that your co-workers will follow your example. Honesty is a pillar of every helpful and friendly workspace.

      Next in line is confidence. I’ve already mentioned how your behavior reflects on the team as a whole. Well, confidence is something very important, especially in times when things aren’t going according to plan. If you remain calm during difficult times, team morale will flourish and everyone will be working and moving ahead with their crosshairs on a larger goal.

      4. Reinvent Team Building

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        Team Building is a time when your employees should not feel like it is another “business” day. The emphasis should be on spending time together and sharing some unique experiences, even if that’s something a bit outside of someone’s comfort zone.

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        When you are planning a team building activity or creating one, you should also set some goals. You can organize events where people can discover what motivates and demotivates other team members. Or, play a game that shows the value of everyone’s ideas. Also, don’t restrain from trying the good old get to know each other games. Not only will your co-workers get the chance to find out something new about their colleagues, but you can also use this material for future team building events.

        Team building games are also an excellent opportunity to improve problem-solving skills and to inspire creativity. These types of games are popular by the name “Use what you have”. For newly formed teams, a scavenger hunt game can improve collaboration and teamwork, and you can always make it more interesting with clues and riddles.

        Conclusion

        As you can see, building a good team is a process and it can be hard at times. But, let those “hard” times and how your team passes through them serve you as a key indicator of where the team is going. Feel free to make adjustments on the go. In the end, you will see that it’s all about the soft skills and the chemistry that

        Feel free to make adjustments on the go. In the end, you will see that it’s all about the soft skills and the chemistry that develops between team members when it comes to increasing productivity and morale at the workplace.

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        Ivan Dimitrijevic

        Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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        Last Updated on April 23, 2019

        How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

        How to Set Stretch Goals and Keep Your Team Motivated

        Stretch goals are a lot like physical fitness. When you adopt a physical sport such as running, continual practice leads to increased stamina, growth and progress.

        While commitment to the sport improves performance, true growth happens when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone. I know this from personal experience.

        For years, I was an avid runner. I ran with a variety of running groups in the Washington, D.C., area and in Columbus, Ohio, where I lived prior to moving to the nation’s capital in 2011.

        While I was initially fearful about slacking off on my exercise habit when I moved to D.C., running enthusiasts in the area provided continual motivation, inspiring me to lace up my shoes day after day. Much to my surprise, many of the area’s running stores (including Pacers and Potomac River Running) boasted running groups that met in the mornings and evenings. So, it was relatively easy for a newcomer like me to connect with like-minded peers.

        I was never a particularly fast runner, but I enjoyed the afterglow of the sport: being completely drained but feeling a sense of accomplishment; setting and reaching goals; buying and wearing out new tennis shoes. The sound of throngs of feet pounding the pavement in semi-unison is still enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I sometimes tear up at the start of races.

        Of all the groups I ran with, the Pacers Store group that met on Monday nights in Logan Circle boasted the fastest runners. I met up with the group week after week only to be the slowest runner. It was difficult to muster the courage to get up every week and meet the group knowing what was waiting for me: sweating and watching the backs of fellow runners.

        Each time I joined the group, I was stretching myself without even realizing it. Instead of feeling like I was transitioning into a better running, for a long time I felt I was torturing myself.

        Then something remarkable happened. I went for a run with a different set of runners and noticed my time had improved. I was running at a faster pace and doing so with ease. What was once uncomfortable for me I now handled with ease.

        The reason I was becoming a better runner was because I was taking myself out of my comfort zone and challenging myself physically and mentally. This example illustrates the process of growth.

        Fortunately, we can create situations that stretch us in our personal and professional lives.

        What Is a Stretch Goal?

        A stretch goal – as authors Sim B. Sitkin, C. Chet Miller and Kelly E. See detail an article “The Stretch Goal Paradox” in Harvard Business Review[1] – is something that is extremely difficult and novel. It is something that not everyone does, and it’s sometimes considered impossible.

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        In general, you establish stretch goals by doing things that are difficult or temporarily challenging.

        For instance, when I was first promoted to a senior communications management role, I knew I needed to beef up my relationships with media personalities. I set a goal to once a month book a day of media interviews in New York City – which is home to many media outlets, including SiriusXM radio, CNN, NBC News, HuffPost, VIBE.

        This was a huge goal because it meant not only identifying the right people to meet with but convincing them to meet with me and my team. While I didn’t end up meeting the goal of doing a full day of media interviews in New York City, I met more people than I would have met had I not established the goal and instead stayed in the comfort of my D.C. office.

        It is important to note that just because you establish a stretch goal doesn’t mean you’ll achieve the goal each time. However, the process of trying is guaranteed to provide some level of growth.

        The Importance of Creating Stretch Goals

        The beginning of the year is a perfect time to assess where you are excelling and where there is room for you to grow. I typically start the year by creating a yearlong strategic plan for myself.

        I think about the things that are necessary to do and things that would be cool to do. I assess the people I should know and think through how to meet them. Then I ask myself if the goals are realistic and what would need to happen for me to achieve them.

        Over time, I have learned that there are five things I can do to set stretch goals:

        1. Get Outside of Your Head

        If I exist within the confines of my imagination, I imperil my own growth and creativity.

        If I examine my accomplishments and celebrate them in isolation of others’ accomplishments, my vantage point is limited.

        I want to be comfortable with what I accomplish, but I also want to be motivated by watching others. In some respects, stretching is about expanding your network of friends, associates and mentors. These are the people who will propel or slow your growth and development.

        Since two are better than one, I always value being able to share my progress with others, seek feedback and then map a plan for success.

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        2. Focus on a Couple Areas at a Time

        When setting goals, it is important to focus on a couple of areas at a time. Most of us are only able to focus on a few things at a time, and if you feel you are unable to tackle all that is before you, you may simply disengage.

        I see this in so many areas of life:

        When people get in debt, if they believe the debt is insurmountable, they refuse to look at incoming bills for fear of facing down the debt. Unfortunately, many businesses go awry when setting stretch goals.

        In “The Stretch Goal Paradox,” Sitkin, Miller and See note:

        “Our research suggests that though the use of stretch goals is quite common, successful use is not. And many executives set far too many stretch goals. In the past five years, for example, Tesla failed to meet more than 20 of founder Elon Musk’s ambitious projections and missed half of them by nearly a year, according to the Wall Street Journal.”

        Goal-setting is like a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t all need to happen at the same time, and pacing is extremely important if you want to get to the finish line. It is better to focus on a couple goals at a time, master them and then move on to the next thing.

        3. Set Aside Time Each Year to Focus on Goal-Setting

        When I was a managing director for communications for the Advancement Project, I spent the first part of every year facilitating a communications planning meeting.

        The planning meeting began with the team members assessing the goals the team had established in the preceding year, and whether those goals were realistic or not. If we failed to meet certain goals, we broke down why that happened. From there, we brainstormed about possibilities for the current year.

        For instance, one year we set a goal of pitching and getting 24 opinion essays published. This was audacious because no one on the eight-person team had the luxury of focusing exclusively on editing and pitching opinion essays to publications around the world. We would need to focus on pitching in between the rest of our work.

        We hit this goal within the first eight months of the year. Remarkably, in total, we ended up getting 40 opinion essays published that year, which was an indication that our original goal was too low. We upped the goal to 41 the next year, and amazingly, we hit 42 published opinion essays or guest columns.

        From this experience, we not only learned what was feasible, we also learned the power of focus.

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        When we focused as a team on getting the commentary on our issues out in the public domain, we were successful. The key in all of this is that there was a ton of discussion around which goal we’d pursue and why.

        Equally important, as a manager, I didn’t set the goals alone; the team members and I established the goals collaboratively. This ensured buy-in from each individual.

        4. Use the S.M.A.R.T. Goal Model to Set Realistic Goals

        S.M.A.R.T.

        is a synonym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. For the sake of this article, the realistic portion of the acronym is most important.

        While you want to set audacious goals, you want to ensure that they are realistic as well. No one is served by setting a goal that is impossible to accomplish.

        Failing to meet goals can be demoralizing for teams, so it’s important to be sober-eyed about what is possible. Additionally, the purpose of setting goals is to advance and grow, not depress morale.

        For instance, my team would have been discouraged had I begun the year asking it to pitch and place 40 opinion essays if we didn’t already have a track record of placing close to two dozen essays.

        By using the S.M.A.R.T. formula, we were able to achieve all that we set out to do.

        5. Break the Goal up into Small Digestible Parts

        I am a recovering perfectionist. As a writer, being a perfectionist can be counterproductive because I can fail to start if I don’t see a clear pathway to victory.

        The same is true with goal-setting. That’s why I join Lifehack’s fellow contributor Deb Knobelman, Ph.D., in noting that it is critically important to break goals into bite-sized chunks.

        When I had a goal of doing daylong media meetings in New York City, I had to think through all the barriers to achieving that goal and all the steps required to meet the goal.

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        One step was identifying which reporters, producers and hosts to engage. Another step was writing a pitch or meeting invitation that would capture their attention. Another step was thinking through the program areas I wanted to highlight and the new angles I could offer to different reporters.

        Since reporters want to cover stories that no one else has written, I needed to come up with fresh angles for each of the reporters I was engaging. An additional step was thinking through who from my team I’d take with me to the various meetings.

        I was clear that, as a talking head, as public relations reps are sometimes called, I needed the right spokesperson in order to land repeated meetings with different outlets.

        A final step was thinking through what I needed to bring to each meeting and which reports, videos and testimonials would buttress our claims and be of interest to media figures.

        As I walked through what was needed to bring my goal of doing daylong meetings to reality, I realized that not only was the idea within reach, but I was excited to tackle the challenge.

        From that point until now, I have learned to break down goals into smaller parts and tackle the smaller parts on the path to knocking the goal out of the park.

        The Bottom Line

        These are my recommendations for setting stretch goals, and there are a ton of other resources to support you in the workplace and in your community.

        For instance, LinkedIn’s Lynda.com platform has a wonderful suite of leadership development videos, including ones on establishing stretch goals. This is a paid resource but may be worth the investment if you lead a team or want to invest in tools for your own growth and development.

        Featured photo credit: Avatar of user Isaac Smith Isaac Smith @isaacmsmith Isaac Smith via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1] Harvard Business Review: The Stretch Goal Paradox

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