A networked team is a strong team.
As a team leader, you should do whatever you can to encourage, cultivate, and support the network connections among your team members.
Here are 3 ways you can foster more engagement between members.
Official Meeting Time
The way you run certain meetings can make a big difference. Are you “all business” or do you allow for some space for team members to chat about the nontrivial stuff that can create bonds.
Anything that opens up areas for common interest can help the team gel. Even better are areas where there is uncommon interest. Finding out about all the diverse interests and activities is probably more effective than keeping the focus narrow.
After all, the team is together for a pretty narrow focus. The group is an artificial construct around a particular project or function. Exploring differences keeps things interesting and lively.
Informal Meeting Time
Forced fun has a purpose in life. What seems awkward at the outset ends up being a fond memory later on. This is true of family trips, and it’s true of team building.
But everything doesn’t have to be about “trust falls” or “two truths and a lie.” It can be a simple pizza lunch or an outdoor meeting on a warm day.
People know what to do when they get together. Your job is to simply create some circumstances to allow that to happen. Get them together and give them permission to interact in new ways.
Another great way to foster some networking is to simply create a forum to discuss work. Some structure is needed to shape the discussions, but it can be minimal.
These meetings can be held to debrief on a specific project or process. Here you can invite people to speak up about what they feel went well or what they feel could be improved. They might share lessons learned. Or maybe each person could simply share a summary of their contribution so that everyone can learn more about how everything fit together in the end.
The goal is to simply allow people to express ideas, share insights, and show each other how they think. We all learn when this happens, and we bond a little more as a team.
You could also host a forum that is more forward looking, with the discussion focused more around an upcoming challenge. Individuals could share their perspective on trends, the opportunities they foresee, and the problems that concern them most.
Teams are Individuals with Relationships to Each Other
Your team is a group of individuals who work together. They have working relationships, but also personal relationships. The more you can do to facilitate the development of those relationships, the better.
Informal interactions can really help to grease the wheels of a team. It can help in good times and when things are tough. Because a lot of working together depends on good communication, trust, and a sense of working toward something greater than any individual.
Fostering more team engagement helps all of that. And a few simple tweaks, over time, can go a long way.