4 Quick and Easy Ways to Build Camaraderie on Your Team
Justin Lathrop | April 25, 2013
One of the most important things you can do to keep your church's team function well is to create camaraderie in the workplace.
Studies show that, if people are connected in a meaningful way with their co-workers, their productivity is higher and retention is longer, even if they don’t feel particularly energized by their daily tasks. That said, one of the most important things we can do as leaders is create an environment where everyone feels connected in a meaningful way to the community.
This, of course, is easier said than done.
But here are a few quick and simple ways you can get started building a sense of community and camaraderie on your team right now.
Set the tone for open communication
Open communication creates safety, and it only takes one person to set the tone for this kind of transparency and clarity. Generally, if one person is clear and open with their communication, it gives others permission to do the same.
Since the term “open communication” can be a little bit abstract, here are a few tangible ways to cultivate open communication.
• Mean what you say — think before you speak and try to say exactly what you mean, rather than talking around the subject to preserve feelings. Indirect communication leaves space for others to wonder and speculate.
• Avoid exaggerating — It can be tempting as a leader to exaggerate your message, one way or the other, to communicate urgency or intensity. But exaggeration actually has the opposite of your desired effect. It breaks trust over time and sets a precedent for dishonesty.
• Listen and ask for clarification — When people share their concerns with you, listen. Really listen. Rather than becoming defensive, see if you can try to understand where that person is coming from, and what they’re asking for.
The more openly you can communicate, the more trust you will develop for one another, and the stronger the working relationships on your team will become.
Resolve conflicts quickly
Often in our efforts to cultivate positive working relationships we avoid conflict, thinking, “let’s just keep the peace.” The problem is, avoiding conflict never keeps the peace like we think it will. In fact, conflicts that are left untouched become worse over time. A conflict that starts small can get out of hand if it’s not addressed quickly.
In order to build relationships in the midst of conflict, rather than tear them down, here are a few things to remember:
• There are two sides to every story, and all of the fault never falls on one side. Have an open mind and be willing to think about how you (or both parties, if you’re the mediator) might have contributed to the tension or misunderstanding.
• There is often conflict under the conflict, meaning that arguments about the use of a copy machine are rarely about a copy machine. See if you can get to the bottom of the conflict. That’s where real resolution will come from.
Taking care of conflict quickly helps ensure each member of the team this is a safe and fun place to work.
Respect the differences of individuals and celebrate their values
One way you can help yourself and your team see the values each person brings to the table is to take a personality assessment like Strengths Finders or Meyer’s Briggs, or a spiritual gifts assessment.
Exercises like this can help your whole team recognize how each person fits uniquely into the larger picture, and feel valued for his or her strengths.
Additionally, it helps us see the strengths others bring to the table, too.
Give away ownership
Finally, there is no better way to create camaraderie among your team than allowing each member of the team to feel invested in what you’re doing. Team members are more likely to feel like they’re an integral part of the whole, and therefore to bring their best every day, when they feel responsible for what they’re doing.
Here are a couple of thoughts about how to grow ownership.
• Know the gifts each member of the team has to offer, and invite them to use those gifts in specific ways (“I know how much you love connecting with people, would you help me connect with so-and-so for the event coming up this Friday?”).
• Be willing to delegate projects, not just tasks. This communicates trust and gives personal responsibility to the person taking charge.
Giving away ownership is so important to camaraderie because people will care deeply about that which they worked to create.
Can you think of other ways to cultivate camaraderie among your team?