Boost Team Building by Allowing Autonomy

Solo project or team effort? Often professionals think a project essentially is one or the other, but actually, it can be both by allowing for sufficient autonomy within a larger framework.

When staging an event, for example, typically many people are involved, contributing their own talents to the greater whole. At least some degree of autonomy is given to each contributor, but a delicate balance is needed to assure that everyone is bringing their best to the table within a team concept. Here are some ways (inspired by a column at techsytalk.com) that managers can strike that balance, and thereby boost team building and obtain the best possible results.

Corral the best talent: Find all the people you need to make it work. They all need to not only offer special, unique skills, but also be able to work successfully as team members. It’s not always easy to find people who are great at both.

Make any criticisms constructive: No one enjoys being scolded or told that they’re simply wrong about something. Instead, offer suggestions regarding how the employee can better utilize his or her special skills to boost team building, while expressing appreciation for something positive about the person’s work. And be a good, receptive listener: You’ll sometimes find that your criticism is off-base because of your own misunderstanding or hasty judgment of a situation. Shed egos aside, and always remember that you and your employee are working together toward common goals.

Communicate clearly and regularly: If you haven’t done so already, before the project begins, get to know each person working on it. By developing mutual understanding and appreciation, you will provide the foundation for a good working relationship. Make sure that there are clear channels for communication between you and each employee during every step of the project.

Give your employees a sense of freedom: Although you’re in charge, be a facilitator rather than a general. You know what needs to be accomplished and have ideas of how to do it, but don’t insist on always wearing your manager hat. Often, you need to simply be one of the team, and in some cases, you need to allow others to lead you. If you simply dictate what needs to be done without leaving room for others’ feedback, you may as well be working with entry-level administrative assistants and interns. When working with highly skilled professionals, provide room for them to utilize their own styles and talents to achieve the desired team goals.

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