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How to Build a Strong Team Without the Pricey Off-Sites

The value of teamwork is priceless, so team-building shouldn't have to cost a lot. Start with these basics to build a good foundation.
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As business owners, we count on our teams to get things done that will move our businesses forward. When each team works internally together productively and every department works in harmony with the others, our companies make giant leaps forward.

Great teams don't always develop organically, unfortunately. And while it can seem like a waste of time and resources to actively cultivate teambuilding, it is really an incredible tool in making our businesses thrive. Here are three easy ways to help your team gel without breaking the bank.

1. Create opportunities for employees to get to know one another. When we bring on new hires, the veteran sales reps always seem to be cordial enough but never go out of their way to welcome the new people--perhaps it's because they are busy, or maybe it's because they hesitate to invest in a new teammate until they see whether the rookie will make it at our company.

Helping the new hires to integrate the team, however, can be fundamental to their success at the company. The best way to do this is simply by incenting teammates to get to know one another better. We recently hired some new sales reps, and this week, I will ask all the veteran reps to take a rookie to lunch, paid for by the company, so they have a chance to see each other as real people, and not just colleagues that have been forced upon them.

That's good for moral, and thus for business, too. If teammates are in tune with one another, they are much more willing to share best practices and to offer a helping hand without being asked to do so.

2. Use shared situations to promote togetherness. Helping teams to rely on one another across departments can seem more difficult, because the team members have fewer moments of contact with one another than they do with their own teammates, so you should seize any opportunity that arises to do so.

Last week, the building behind ours caught fire, and the strong smell of made it uncomfortable to keep on working, so we decided to send the whole staff to breakfast--both for their safety and to capitalize on a moment of team togetherness. They headed to a diner around the block, and it cost us $150 and an hour-and-a-half of wages, but the expense was so small compared to the camaraderie they came back with.

That they had all experienced the same event in the same way gave them something in common and opened doors for future communication. Companies whose employees communicate well are companies where ideas can flourish and be taken from concept to inception in record time.

3. Insist on direct conflict resolution. The worst detractor from team morale is a conflict that is allowed to fester, especially when it is personal in nature. Some companies use human-resources directors or managers to mediate these types of disagreements. At Metal Mafia, we require the people in conflict to meet directly with one another to resolve any issues.

Taking out the middleman and incenting the people in question to work together to find resolution forces them to see one another as people with feelings instead of just adversaries. In so doing, they often come away not only with a solution to the problem, but also with a willingness to work harder to understand the other person’s perspective.

Companies that strive to promote understanding and openness among staff members create an atmosphere of accessibility and approachability--traits that carry over to customer interactions as well.

Teamwork is not just something we should pay lip service to as managers and owners--it is something we need to both encourage and emphasize.

 

IMAGE: Karl Weatherly/Getty
Last updated: May 21, 2014

VANESSA MERIT NORNBERG | President, Metal Mafia

In 2004, Vanessa Merit Nornberg opened Metal Mafia, a wholesale body and costume jewelry company that sells to more than 5,000 specialty shops and retail chains in 23 countries. Metal Mafia was an Inc. 500 company in 2009.




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