The Lego Movie: Are teams really that awesome?

“Everything is awesome, everything is cool when you’re part of a team
Everything is awesome, living our dream…”

The Lego Movie has been offering much delight in our household over these dark winter days, particularly the cringingly awful song ‘Everything is Awesome!’**

Many of us have worked in some truly awesome teams over the years, and will look back fondly at a ‘dream team’ we have felt privileged to belong to. And then there were ‘those’ teams – the ones that didn’t gel, riddled with gossip and petty politics with ongoing disputes over everything from who was to blame for missing out on that sizeable contract to who hasn’t been keeping the communal kitchen tidy. Am I right?

Even if you’ve never been part of one of those, I bet you’ve co-existed with them.

Lack of team cohesion affects the whole organisation, damaging internal efficiency and, ultimately, affecting the service received by your customers. So how do teams and their managers work towards making team membership cool and awesome, Lego-style? Here are six great starting points:

  • 1. Encourage clear and open communication. If team members have to rely on the grapevine for their information, why be surprised when facts get distorted and divisions begin to appear? Ensuring an easy flow of two-way information between managers and the managed is the single most effective way to build team direction and cohesion.

  • 2. Recognise and respect individuality. People are not always neat round pegs in neat round holes. Help your team members to understand the different strengths each brings to the joint effort, and encourage tolerance and practical support where someone is initially struggling to contribute fully. Perhaps you could try a team profiling tool like DISC or Clarity4D to help soften some perceptions?

  • 3. Clearly define responsibilities. People are often very clear about the role-related targets they must meet, but what about their responsibilities to their internal customers – including their team? Getting everyone involved in designing a Team Charter is a great way of agreeing the values and behaviours everyone can sign up to. The Team Charter can be built into your normal appraisal process as well as providing a handy point of reference throughout the year.

  • 4. Celebrate together! The quiet one in the corner doing a great job day in and day out deserves the same recognition as the extroverted self-publicist. People who get acknowledged and thanked feel good about themselves. And when people feel good about themselves, they feel better about everyone else too. Many organisations use a ‘Star of the Month’ type scheme to great effect.

  • 5. Set them up for success. No one should ever be set up to fail. If someone is struggling to contribute to the team effort, they will cause resentment. Make sure they’re not struggling because they haven’t been provided with something – knowledge, understanding, achievable goals, equipment, a supportive environment, too much or too little supervision… Once the tools of success are provided, the rest is up to them. Only then might you need to…

  • 6. Recognise when the wrong person is in the role and be proactive about moving them on – or even out. It sounds harsh, but being the wrong ‘fit’ isn’t comfortable for anyone, and the manager owes it to the team to think with strategic as well as emotional intelligence. It doesn’t mean you have to lose good people, and it certainly doesn’t mean you let warring team members push each other out. But thinking with your head as well as your heart is a key part of bringing about team cohesion.

Delivering outstanding customer service is everyone’s responsibility – not just the people who pick up the phones and smile over the counter. The infrastructure from the top of the organisation to the bottom needs to be cooperative and dynamic. It’s the whole team effort that translates into an ‘everything is awesome’ customer service culture and delivers an outstanding experience to everyone. Team members included.

**What not to love about a rap that includes the lines: “I feel more awesome than an awesome possum, dip my body in chocolate frosting, three years later wash off the frosting, smelling like a blossom, everything is awesome!” (Or is that just me?)

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