I doubt anyone would deny the value of enthusiastic groups. It is a very simple equation to follow. The more enthusiastic each member of a workforce is, the more engaged they become as a group, and the more engaged they are, the more creative, productive, and proactive they become, which leads to more enthusiasm. Simply put, enthusiastic groups of workers are more capable and efficient and perpetuate a work environment that encourages repetition of these values.
Here are a few thoughts surrounding the practical development of group enthusiasm:
Understand the difference between a group and a team
This is very important because teams have very different development needs from groups. One reason for this is that teams tend to be focused on highly defined areas or tasks within a business. Groups, on the other hand, could have multiple team, personal, workplace, and personal agendas at play. The focus is of a group is therefore likely to be on larger, sometimes more ephemeral goals as well as their personal needs.
Collectively decide on workplace values
Groups require collective common ground to be effective. Without this, you get into a position where you have individuals simply performing tasks for money or, worse still, silos of informal collectives based on gender, culture, age, and so on. Creating a series of workplace values and agreed behavioural codes as goals will help create a common ground that individuals will all be drawn to.
How do the values look?
Once you have group values, they must translate into practical use. One of the issues with value sets is that they can be a little woolly and general. Terms such as ‘respecting people’ are well-meaning but nebulous goals unless it is clear what that means in the workplace. Specific examples of how your workplace envisions inclusivity in action and so forth will help iron out ambiguity.
Groups are made of individuals
Probably the biggest difference between groups and teams is that they are composed of individuals. Where a team is working to collective benchmarks of success and has communal responsibilities, groups do not have the same key performance markers. The goals and values should support individual achievement, and this should be recognised as personal success feeding group accomplishment. Whatever methods are chosen to encourage enthusiasm in groups, emphasis should also be given to the individual as well as the common good.
Get different to get results
Don’t stick with the old ways unless they will clearly work with your people. In particular, beware of rehashing team-building exercises with groups because they may not work. We tend to focus on skills and milestone achievements for teams, but for groups, you need to remember that some may not be in a role where it is easy to stand out, no matter how well they are achieving. Investment in the workplace design, feedback that recognises value, group communal resources, recognising families as part of the work world, and many other options are available as alternatives to ‘team building exercises’, which are often skills focused.
Enthusiastic groups create strong teams and a flexible workforce. Generating group enthusiasm is like making sure everyone has the fuel they need to power through the day. Without it, things still get done, but it’s all less energetic, and work is a chore rather than a good day spent productively.
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