June 22, 2017

How to Engineer Team Camaraderie and High-Performance

As a practice owner, you can and should create and value camaraderie as a competitive advantage. Not only for recruiting and retaining top employees, but for improving engagement, creativity, and productivity. In fact, research shows that this connection and commitment to our team members is actually a key driver of employee performance. So, let science show you how to build team camaraderie in your practice!

The Power of Team Camaraderie

A case study conducted by North Carolina Outward Bound School discovered that employees benefit from getting to know their colleagues in a different environment than the workplace. In fact, employees find it enjoyable and exceptionally useful in building important professional relationships. As a result, they’re very willing to utilize one another as resources in work situations.

Furthermore, research shows that workers that have friendships with coworkers are happier. They report their job is more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile, and satisfying. As a matter of fact, Gallup Inc., in their State of the American Workplace report, found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%. Also, people with a best friend at work are 7 times more likely to engage fully in their work.

In CEB Global’s (now Gartner) research study, they found that “employees who feel committed to their coworkers perform better.”

Evidently, team camaraderie has a major impact on employee performance. Which begs the question:

How can you enable your team to feel this connection amongst one another?

The New Science of Building Team Camaraderie

With the recent advances in wireless and sensor technology, building great teams has become a science. Truth be told, we now have the ability to measure and map communication patterns. We can then compare that “sociometric data” with performance data to identify the communication patterns that make for successful work.

As a matter of fact, MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory used this technology to conduct a study at a major bank’s call center to dissect and engineer high-performance.

As a result, they identified the “elusive group dynamics that characterize high-performing teams” and published their findings in the Harvard Business Review. They found that not only are these dynamics (energy, creativity, and shared commitment to far surpass other teams) observable, quantifiable, and measurable. But perhaps most important, teams can be taught how to strengthen them.

One of their big finds was that a team’s energy and engagement outside formal meetings accounted for one-third of the variations in dollar productivity among groups.

Is a Lack of Employee Engagement Costing Your Practice?

Source: Gallup, Inc.

How to Build Team Camaraderie in Your Practice

If you want to build a high-performing team, then you need to improve your team’s engagement, creativity, and productivity by enabling them to feel a connection amongst one another. To get started, here are 3 clear actions to engineering team camaraderie and high-performance:

1. Foster a Culture of Camaraderie

Creating camaraderie in your practice hinges on you as the leader. In a Harvard Business Review article, Christian M. Riordan interviewed Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest, on fostering a culture of camaraderie. Kelly’s most important piece of advice was to “be clear in your mind on what you want the culture to be within your organization.”

At Southwest, they strive for a culture where employees feel they’re part of a family. Kelly suggests leaders must “model the culture: spending time with employees, treating people with respect, having fun, being there for them personally and professionally, and putting people first — with empathy, kindness and compassion.”

2. Give Your Team a Chance to Socialize

In MIT’s study, they found that the best predictors of productivity were a team’s energy and engagement outside formal meetings. Drawing on that insight, they advised the call center to allow the team to take breaks at the same time.

As a result, Average Handling Time (the golden standard of call center efficiency) fell by more than 20% among lower-performing teams and decreased by 8% overall. Plus, employee satisfaction improved by more than 10%.

With such overwhelming data, the bank has now implemented the break schedule at all 10 of their call centers. They’re forecasting $15 million a year in productivity increases.

Furthermore, MIT found that 35% of the variation in a team’s performance can be accounted for simply by the number of face-to-face exchanges among team members. It may seem illogical that side-conversation contributes to better performance, rather than distracts the team, but the data proves otherwise.

In your practice, give your team a chance to socialize by conducting team building activities or holding a team lunch once a week/month. Occasionally, take your team out of the workplace for projects, volunteer work, or other fun activities.

3. Share & Celebrate Team Success

Believe it or not, it’s incredibly valuable to share success stories with your team, specifically how the team worked together to overcome obstacles. In fact, employees feel the greatest connection and commitment to their coworkers when they have faced a common challenge and partnered to achieve success.

In your practice, make a point to acknowledge team players and team success during morning huddle or weekly team meetings. Whenever a team member achieves a goal that contributes to the team’s common goals, celebrate it. Basically, everything that gets done and contributes to the mission of the team is a team success that should be shared and celebrated!

Higher Performance is Just the Tip of the Iceberg!

Implement the 3 actions above, and you'll start building the close connections your team needs to thrive. But realize, the true benefits of team camaraderie far outweigh increased productivity and performance. Everyone in your office will benefit personally and professionally. And when your team feels more like a family, amazing things happen.

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