A team brings together individuals who have different personalities and diverse yet complementary skill sets. The ideal view of a team’s overarching purpose is that that every member will use their differing strengths and skills, while working together in harmony, to complete tasks and projects to the best of their ability. To this end, thriving teams have a clear team purpose and strong relationships through a sense of psychological safety and trust. They are happy to be accountable to each other and are aligned in their direction. They connect in a meaningful way and collaborate, while both supporting and challenging each other. 


Building and sustaining thriving, successful teams is a fine art. Here are 4 pointers to follow in cultivating a team that thrives:  


1. Incorporate meaningful work 

One of the foundations of a thriving workforce is ensuring that every employee finds their work meaningful. From the CEO down to the janitorial staff, it is important that each individual grasps how their role and tasks are significant in supporting the broader goals of the company. When teams understand how their work contributes to the company’s success, they are more likely to find their tasks meaningful and fulfilling.  


Here are 3 steps to building a culture of meaningful work:   

  • Clearly communicate the team’s purpose:
    Clarify the team’s purpose within the company and help each team member to understand the impact and importance of their work, connecting it to a larger mission. 
  • Carefully assign tasks according to team members’ strengths:
    Explore how their individual strengths and interests can be utilised within their roles and involve the team in setting meaningful personal and team goals that align with their purpose.  
  • Connect work to personal values:
    Help team members to recognise how their work aligns with their personal values and passions. When work feels personally meaningful it boosts engagement and motivation. 


2. Make feedback a priority 

Feedback serves as a guide to team members’ growth and is a great foundation for improvement. Even more important than providing feedback is following it up. Managers who sustain the practice of continual feedback and follow-up to ensure improvement will enjoy increased engagement within their teams, along with a positive, innovative work environment.  


Here are 2 ways in which to optimise feedback: 

  • Make sure everyone in the team is involved:
    Institute a collaborative approach where every person is involved in team decisions – when appropriate – including the actioning of feedback. This will help individuals understand how their behaviour affects the team and company and will help to up the quality of their performance.  
  • Encourage openness and honesty:
    Effective communication is the foundation for any successful team. When there is open and honest communication between everyone in a team, collaboration increases and guesswork is eliminated. Ultimately, this leads to better decision-making and innovation within the company. 


3. Foster trust 

Trust is the glue that holds a team together. In a workplace where employees feel comfortable and safe to be themselves, they will be more open in sharing their opinions – and more prone to taking risks without fearing judgement or reprisal. In such a workplace, team members trust one another and collaborate more effectively. This leads to job satisfaction and a thriving team.  

Here are 3 ways to build trust within a team 

  • Show focus with flexibility
    A good leader will focus on setting and reaching a practical team vision and achievable targets. Yet, they will be flexible in adjusting tasks and projects as needed. They remain open to new ideas and change as long as it moves the team and company forward.  
  • Remain as transparent as possible
    Communicate openly and often with your team to sustain a level of trust. For example, if you have concerns about the progress that the team is making on a project, openly share these concerns in a team setting – making your input impersonal and non-judgmental.  
  • Model leadership qualities
    Living out leadership qualities such as accountability, active listening and empathy can enable team members to trust you – and other members of the team. It can be helpful to model the behaviors and skills you want displayed by your team members. 


4. Stay real and relatable 

Thriving teams need a manager whose authority they respect but whom they can relate to and who understands them. And it is helpful to be genuinely interested in your team. By caring about each individual equally and taking an interest in their lives and what matters to them, you lay the foundation for strong, long-lasting relationships. 


Here are 3 leadership traits that will make you more relatable: 

  • Put people at ease
    Firstly, an approachable leader makes people feel comfortable and at ease. Then, one of the primary keys to putting people at ease is being yourself. Make a conscious effort to be your true self with the people around you. You will be more relatable to your team if you show them who you really are.  
  •  Be a trustworthy sounding board
    Let people know they can always come to you. Approachable leaders possess a lot of useful information. When you freely share pertinent information, you allow people to get to know and understand you better.  
  • Share your values and see the value in others
    Best-selling author and expert on leadership, John Maxwell, describes the key to being relatable as embodying a progression of values. Maxwell discusses three main steps1 in being relatable as 

    • Share your values 
    • See the value in others 
    • Add value to others 

John Maxwell says, “When you know what you stand for, what you believe, and how you see the world, you’re in the best position to live authentically with your people because you know who you are.” 


Last but not least, one of the important aspects of building a thriving team is to have fun. Beyond having fun together outside of the office, an enjoyable work environment creates a positive atmosphere, one which not only reduces stress but also enhances creativity and innovation as employees feel empowered to think creatively. And when team members feel a genuine sense of satisfaction and joy in completing their tasks – and when they are recognised for their excellent work – they become more invested in the success of the team and the company. This leads to an increase in productivity and the overall performance of the team.  

Over to you for sharing your comments and experiences.

About the Author: Kerstin Jatho

Kerstin is the senior transformational coach and team development facilitator for 4Seeds Consulting. She is also the author of Growing Butterfly Wings, a book on applying positive psychology principles during a lengthy recovery. Her passion is to develop people-centred organisations where people thrive and achieve their potential in the workplace. You can find Kerstin on LinkedIn, Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook.

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