Having a strong sense of team spirit is important in any organization. Good teamwork is not only essential for an effective and efficient workplace, but it also makes for happier employees. According to TeamStage, workplaces that have effective communication have 4.5 times higher rates of talent retention.
The ability to build team relationships has always been essential for managers. However, as more workplaces move toward remote and hybrid work models, building and maintaining strong relationships within your team is harder than ever. There’s no doubt that it’s easier to get to know your colleagues and feel connected to them if you see them in person every day.
Having said that, there are plenty of things you can do to build strong team relationships, whether in an in-person or remote work environment.
One of the most important parts of building strong relationships within your team is recognising that communication goes both ways. One of the best ways to do this is to encourage feedback in all directions, whether between colleagues, from supervisors to their direct reports, or vice versa.
Not only does it help your team members build stronger relationships with each other, but employee feedback plays an important role in the success of any organisation. Your team members have unique insights into pain points and how processes can be improved, making their feedback extremely valuable.
Here are a few ways you can encourage feedback, whether in a remote setting or otherwise:
- Hold regular brainstorming sessions with your team, whether through in-person meetings or video conferences.
- Have periodic two-way performance reviews between supervisors and direct reports, where both parties give each other feedback.
- In addition to formal reviews, try to have as many informal chats with your team members as possible to open up dialogues. This could involve taking them out for coffee or having a video call.
- Run anonymous online surveys asking team members for their feedback.
Allow Informal Communication
Informal communication can be very helpful for building strong team relationships in a remote work environment. Remote work has many benefits, but one thing that your team members will miss while working from home is casual interactions with their co-workers, such as by the water cooler or the espresso machine. People miss these small chats about their hobbies or weekend plans.
Although these interactions are typically not related to work, they can sometimes be the perfect way to discuss work issues and roadblocks. Even when purely non-work related, informal chats and other forms of communication are essential for building strong relationships. Team members will feel more comfortable approaching their colleagues or supervisors if they’re already used to chatting to them informally.
There are a few ways you can replicate this kind of informal communication in a remote space. For example, if your team uses a platform like Slack, set up special channels for non-work related conversations and encourage your employees to use them.
Focus on Relationship Building During Onboarding
How you set the tone from their first day can shape employees’ relationships with the rest of their team. It’s important that building relationships is an integral part of your onboarding process. Your new recruits may feel overwhelmed when interacting with a new team, and this can be particularly common in a remote team.
One great way to do this is by pairing new hires with a buddy for their first few weeks. This established employee will help the new employee settle in, and may become a mentor they will approach every time they face an issue at work. This system doesn’t only benefit new recruits, but the mentors too, as they will feel valued.
Encourage Team Members to Socialize
Encouraging your team members to interact outside of work is another great way to build strong team relationships. Classic ways to do this include setting up social clubs or sports teams. Even if your employees work remotely, encourage them to get together in person if they can. You can even give them a day off so they have the chance to socialize with their colleagues.
However, you’ll need virtual forms of socializing when your team members are unable to get together because of geographical distance. In this case, virtual social groups are a fantastic way for team members to socialize remotely. Whether through messaging or virtual get-togethers, they can share memes, discuss news from their personal lives, and play virtual trivia or other games. This is a great way to re-create those water-cooler conversations.
Celebrate Special Days with Your Remote Team
If your employees live in different parts of the country or even all over the world, it may not be possible to surprise them with a cake on their birthday or celebrate special events with them in person.
The least you can do is give them a video call, add other team members, and sing them happy birthday. This small gesture can mean a lot to anyone working remotely, where they may feel disconnected and isolated. You could also send them a gift on behalf of the team to show how much you value them.
Celebrating special events and personal or professional successes helps boost team members’ confidence and makes it easier for them to socialize with the team remotely. They will feel more comfortable hanging out with their co-workers outside of work.
Work on Your Management Skills to Build Stronger Team Relationships
Knowing how to build team relationships is an essential part of being a manager. While management skills come more easily to some people than others, this is a skill set that anyone can learn.
Further study can help you build all kinds of skills and knowledge, including management skills. This, in turn, will help you to foster strong relationships within your team, making everyone happier and more productive.
If you want to hone your management skills, take a look at our fully online MSc in International Business Management.