Nurturing your work culture with team players

| July 19, 2016

Nurturing your work culture with team players

Today´s workplace brings together individuals with similar interests and skill sets to form a team and work on a common platform. Every employee becomes dependent on his fellow employees to work together and contribute efficiently to the business. We work in open spaces, facing each other, meeting regularly and partaking of each others´tasks.

Some of us find this engaging and motivating, while others,  the ¨I¨players, see no benefit in establishing harmonious relationships with their team mates that promote productivity and ultimately benefit the business.
United around the table

It would be very unrealistic to expect all workers to be a perfect fit in an organisation or to hope they share or understand its principles. But if teamwork and employee cooperation are at the core of your business you can start by ensuring the person you are about to employ matches that set of crucial values and attitudes.

Hire slowly…

Hiring a new employee can be a fairly daunting process. It´s hard to screen someone thoroughly in a job interview, particularly in this day and age when interviewees know  exactly what to say to tickle our fancy –  the right answers are at everyone´s fingertips just by going through the many YouTube tutorials on How to successfully answer job interview questions or by reading the endless articles on Internet by Human Resource experts sharing tips and advices on coming up with the answer your prospective employer wants to hear.

But if you want to be sure you are hiring an employee that is able to integrate with the rest of the team, you can take your time and avail yourself of a number of tools. For instance:

Behavioral profiling surveys

Get your candidate to complete these surveys prior to moving forward to the face to face interview. These tools compare his or her philosophy and belief systems to those of your current team and alerts you to potential problem areas that may cause the employee to leave or you to be forced into terminating him/her.

Apply proper interviewing techniques based on the survey results

1. Topgrading – look for patterns. Topgrading tries to identify the long-term patterns in human behaviour by always asking the ¨why¨ rather than the ¨what¨ asking candidates detailed questions about success, failure, decisions, and key relationships in every full time job they’ve held, in chronological order.
2. Involve your staff. Set aside at least 15 to 20 minutes of the time allocated for the interview to have the candidate interact with current staff.  Your current team might notice some characteristics you might not have paid attention to and make you think twice about hiring that person.
3. Use sample job interview questions about performing in a team. For example:

  • Give an example of a successful project you were part of. What was your role? Why was the project successful? 
  • Describe two situations from your past work experience in which you have determined a team was the best potential solution to a problem, a needed process improvement, or a planned change. How did each work out? 
  • What actions and support, in your experience, make a team function successfully?
  • Give me an example of a time when your work group or department worked especially well with another work group or department to accomplish a goal.
  • Have you been a member of a team that struggled or failed to accomplish its goal? If so, what assessment did you make of the reasons for the failure?

Even though you may still make an occasional bad hire and have to deal with the consequences, proper interviewing techniques will give you a huge edge on making an informed decision regarding the candidate.

… but fire quickly

What if despite your careful screening  things take a turn for the worse and your new recruit is unable to fit in your work culture?

Because, we all know how feeble a working environment can be where a number of events can occur that break the team’s healthy dynamics before you know it. To stay “built,” team members should pinpoint problems as they arise and address them immediately. As a manager, you should do everything in your power to resolve the problem and give the new recruit the chance that it deserves.

However, do not procrastinate and allow the cancer to spread.

Face reality.  If you see the kind of behaviour that undermines teamwork, don´t apply the elusive “hope-and-hint” strategy, that is, just wait and hope it does not happen again and when hope fails, you get a little tougher and drop a hint. Managing by “hope-and-hint” does not work.

Start by sitting down with this person and explain that one part of the employees’ job functions is supporting the team. They need to understand that if and when they are not supporting the team, they are not doing their job to the best of their ability. They need to understand the importance of the company´s values and your emphasis on encouraging a healthy, cooperative and communicative work culture.

Demand commitment, get them to sign on your discussion.

But if the problem continues and this person is disrupting the valued members of your team and the overall work culture, it´s time to apply the old  adage “Hire slowly and fire quickly” and terminate the relationship. It is very difficult to move a team forward when several players are moving to the sidelines because they don’t like to participate. Players like this make it tough to run a business and become roadblocks in the path to success and productivity.

So, if you are paying careful attention and providing this employee with the chances that everyone deserves to fit in the culture, as a manager and supervisor you need to take a stand and address employees who exhibit behaviours that do not support teamwork. It´s not easy, but if you allow persons who tattle on others like 10 year old children and who do not support communication with other team members, your and your team´s work environment, and ultimately your productivity, are bound to suffer.