It is often said that if you don’t have anything good to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all. But if you’re trying to build a team and you don’t have anything good to say, you can say something bad, if you say it in a nice way. It’s perfectly acceptable to express your disapproval if you do it with respect. This is among the team building strategies advocated by Barton Goldsmith, acclaimed leadership consultant to numerous companies. In his view, emotional support is a critical aspect of a highly effective team. Feelings matter. And this is true whether the team is a work group or a marriage, though it isn’t clear if such emotional support and possible group hugs would apply to sports teams.
So how exactly do you provide emotional support to your team? In a word or two, “Swag and compliments.” And just for the record, swag is not likely to be well-received if it’s given with a swagger. Swag, such as T-shirts with the company logo, coffee mugs, pens and the like, convey the idea that team members are valuable, and maybe even special. And in general people love gifts and free stuff. Much has been said about the importance of a firm handshake. But even a limp handshake with each member is a great team building strategy. The team leader would also do well to speak in a soft voice, smile, listen deeply and offer compliments. Overall, it turns out that even if the leader is grumpy and gets it wrong sometimes, it’s the thought that counts, says Goldsmith. However, it isn’t clear how team members will know the thought if it isn’t spoken. Go team!
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