There’s a good chance you’ll spend more hours of your life working with colleagues than doing anything else, with anyone else. Now imagine every minute being more worthwhile. You can get there with team building.
Team building has helped my team at Molina Healthcare connect on a more personal level, with greater trust; bring new creativity and enthusiasm to every task; and work as a focused group to serve the company mission first and our department agenda second.
Whether you create a program in-house or hire a consultant to guide you, the following strategies can improve your staff’s motivation and effectiveness. Just remember: The point is to strengthen relevant skills by sharing positive experiences. Team building activities can be one-time events or take place over time, but all should be encouraging and have structure as well as clear, defined goals.
Discover what drives each person on your team
Understanding each team member’s work style and strengths is a great start. My team began by answering personality-revealing questions that we later analyzed together. To dig deeper, try trust exercises and games where you must rely on each other to win.
These activities call for vulnerability, which can be scary. But that’s what leads to the big pay-off: When you truly know each person on your team, you have a better idea of how to accept, support and trust each other — and make the most of your best qualities.
Build a bridge to accurate communication
Put your insights about your team’s styles to use in the way you work with each person.
Remember that email doesn’t always convey tone of voice or facial expression, and leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation. For greatest efficiency and effectiveness, meet face to face. When that’s not possible, picking up the phone can build rapport and result in clearer communication.
Better yet, forget the stigma and use cameras for meetings. At Molina, we’ve found this to be very effective, especially for keeping remote employees engaged. Another great solution is for supervisors to visit remote employees at home, to ensure they have the tools they need, such as tablets to help them stay connected in the field.
Set goals and celebrate achievements
To keep your staff engaged, I recommend Molina’s team approach. Our employees set goals approved by managers and monitored no less than monthly. Executive leaders also support direct reports with regular one-on-one lunches to discuss issues and offer help.
Additionally, we host Leaders Engaged in Ohio (LEO) Talks — modeled after TED Talks — and plan quarterly Town Hall Forums to update employees. We used to send emails to share company performance and highlight accomplishments; now we share the news live so employees can ask questions and connect the dots from their contributions to the organization’s performance.
As Aristotle said, “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” Engaging the best of everyone with team building benefits our bottom line, the people we serve and every one of us who makes it happen.
Ami Cole is the president of Molina Healthcare of Ohio, the state’s second largest Medicaid Managed Care Plan with 337,000 members. Ami has more than 17 years of health care experience, including nearly 10 years at Molina before rising to become president. She is also active in the community, serving as a board member for the nonprofit After-School All-Stars.