Building Your Team by Finding Common Ground
It has been expressed that the backbone of a company is the people. That the people are the work-horse and the driving factor behind success. In order to be successful, the company must look, work, act, and reflect a homogenous point of view.
Think, for example, of the years following World War II, when the majority of workers shared a military experience and were white males ages 25-35. Or, fast forward into the 1950’s and 1960’s when an IBM-driven work culture favored white button down shirts, solid ties, and dark suits. Conformity and uniformity was the norm. These are examples of beginning building blocks of a uniform look.
While these idea of uniformity started with the looks, it has since expanded to the functionality of the group. Team building in the mid to late 20th century still required a leader who could articulate a vision, clarify roles and set goals to a collection of people that possessed the experience and necessary skills for the task at hand. It became much less prevalent to almost non-existent that the team building challenges revolved around racial, gender, age and cultural diversity.
Today, the need for appropriate qualifications, skills and experience still ring true, and teams are still required to meet established goals. However, the talent pool from which a leader would draw the team members looks much more dissimilar than ever before. Consider that English may be a second language or that cultural differences may impact how quickly trust is established or that non-verbal communication or the use of certain phrase or words may mean totally different things from one group to the next.
So, what is a leader to do when trying form a cohesive, effective team? Traditional team building activities can play a role but what if a real effort was made to find the common ground among the diverse members of the team as a first step?
With the added diversity, everyone is going to have different experiences. Not everyone may have been on an airplane or swan in the ocean but chances are everyone has a cell phone. Maybe the entire group was raised in small communities or recently visited a national or state park. The linkages don’t have to be monumental but rather just things that makes one person say to another “we have something in common”. All it takes is some time to get to know your employees and build connections through communication and involvement. And it goes from there.
Maybe we do not need trust falls or zip line courses to get together. Ironically, the beginning of a high-functioning team might just be found in the most mundane of things if we just take a moment to ask and learn about one another. Explore your options and find what is best suited for your needs. People are the success within a company. It will benefit everyone to invest in the needs of the employee and build a community they can thrive in.