The Secrets to Successful Teamwork:
Trust and Accountability
By Rhonda R. Savage, DDS
would be great, if it weren’t for other people! Yet, it’s through
relationships with others that you often obtain the greatest
rewards. Your office is where you spend many hours of your life, so
getting along and working productively with your colleagues is very
important. Unfortunately, many employees experience stress because
team members argue, give each other the silent treatment or allow
one person to do all the work.
So how can you find
ways to get along and create a successful team? Trust and respect
are two essential elements for building relationships in the office
and beyond. It’s all about the relationships you have with people –
which doesn’t necessarily mean friendships. Relationships are built
over time, when one person has respect for another. Gradually trust
beings to build, too. You don’t have to be a close personal friend
with everyone in your office, but you do always need to show each
person respect and professionalism. Here are some guidelines to
facilitate accountability and build trust among your team:
Eighty percent of the job is specified by your job description and
responsibilities. Twenty percent of your time, however, is spent
helping colleagues and clients. Create an atmosphere where everyone
bends over backwards for the other person. A successful, trusted and
well-respected team member uses words like, absolutely or certainly
when asked for help. Look for things that need to be done and do
them without being asked! This is the true definition of teamwork.
Be clear with
prospective employees during the interview process. What are your expectations? Hold your existing employees
and new hires to consistent standards, outlined in your policy
manual. True teamwork demands that all employees are held to the
same standards and most importantly, do whatever is necessary to
take care of the customer!
expectations in an office policy manual.
A personnel policy and office manual should cover individual and
team responsibilities. If you don’t already have one, or if you have
one that needs updating, be sure it includes items such as:
Office and working hours
Professional appearance, including body piercing, tattoos and
Absenteeism and tardiness
Leave of Absence: Disability, Maternity/Paternity, Bereavement,
Sick leave/Well pay bonus
Personal phone calls
Internet and cell phone usage
Check with your
on your individual
state hiring/employment laws and craft your office manual
accordingly. Be aware, however, that more important than defining
your expectations: you need to be consistent in holding all
employees to the same standard, or else you will create an
atmosphere of favoritism!
Outline the time
commitment and set aside adequate time for each task.
It is not fair to assign or accept a responsibility and then have no
time to accomplish the task. Be realistic about the timeframe, and
make sure your team members are aware of the deadlines for each
project they take on.
Be careful to
not overload your staff
with too many commitments or too many interruptions. They will get
discouraged and burned out. Instead, focus on delegating one task at
a time, communicating the objective and timeframe clearly.
by putting a note on your calendar to check on progress.
If you don’t check on progress, the task may not be accomplished.
Find out how the project is progressing and show interest. Ask
questions about the task, and offer your advice and help if needed.
Recognize your employee for taking on the responsibility. It is
discouraging for a team member to work hard and not received
recognition for a job well done!
favoritism toward specific team members. To build trust and accountability, businesses need
consistent leadership. One way is to have effective team meetings on
a regular basis for feedback and input on projects. With team
meetings, allow your staff members the opportunity to volunteer for
special tasks and projects. Remember, it’s impossible to build trust
if one person is favored over others. Ask yourself: Do your staff
members believe they are treated fairly, without prejudice? Do some
feel excluded from the decision-making process? Does one person “do
it all?” When there is no accountability, often times one person
will pick up the slack and take on too many responsibilities.
team members to stand up and lead! Ask them about their concerns and the collective concerns of
the team. Often, teams express concerns about drama in the office,
other team members making personal calls during business hours, and
team members bringing personal issues from home to work. Other
concerns often involve not enough training on new systems,
negativity in the office or people not taking responsibility. As a
leader, do what you can to resolve these issues before they become
areas of contention or conflict.
Open the lines
of communication by having an open door policy. Manage by “walking around.” Know the concerns of your
team and deal with them head on. Ignoring your staff’s concerns will
not make them go away! Be positive in your approach and
dependable in your attitude. Do not lose your temper. Instead, be
reasonable and predicable. If you respond inappropriately, whether
out of anger or insult, your team will remember the 10 percent of
the time that you were out of control, not the 90 percent of the
time that you did well!
Ask your team
members to bend over backwards for each other. To do this, begin a team meeting session by asking your
staff to define the qualities of teamwork that impress them. Ask
them to think about someone they’ve known in the past or present
that represents a true team player: What are the attributes of this
person? Often you’ll hear: Consistency, fairness, general
cheerfulness, flexibility, positivity, and the willingness to
change. How do you rate in these categories?
teamwork means encouraging individual leadership development. To win
in today’s market, you need to step up and take a leadership role
and ask the same of your team members.
Ask your team
members to listen. At your team meetings, encourage respectful
listening. Allow others to speak, without interruption. Let their
voice be heard. There are four things team members need to feel
great about their workplace and feel like a team member:
Appreciation and recognition
sense of belonging to a close knit team
Responsibility and a feeling that their voice matters
Money: pay and benefits
will increase your level of teamwork! To do this, ask questions.
Instead of giving direct orders, ask questions to guide your team
members to think through issues and come up with their own
solutions. You will find that ownership and subsequent
responsibility for the task increase when the team member develops
the solution. Lastly, value your staff. Reassure your team members
that their contribution and leadership does have a huge impact on
your company’s growth and survival.
By following these steps and increasing the accountability of your
office staff, you create trust and respect in the workplace. With
these changes, your sense of teamwork and trust will grow, while
decreasing your levels of stress and conflict!
Read other articles and learn more about
Rhonda R. Savage, DDS.
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