How to bond a team: Slowing down to speed up

How to bond a team: Slowing down to speed up

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In this series, personal coach / trainer & owner of In2Motivation Peter Koijen talks about how internationals in the Netherlands can make their time at work more enjoyable: from leadership and motivation tips to increasing work pleasure and to altering your mindset in an ever-changing work environment.

"So, what is the best way to bond a team?" people often ask me. That’s a great question, especially today when team members have different backgrounds, skill sets and work virtually.

However, a much better question would be "How do you create a sense of belonging in a team?" Well, as you'll read below, the secret is to "slow down to speed up!" 

The sense of belonging

Have you ever wondered why we need a sense of belonging? It’s the old nature-nurture dichotomy, and as we grow up and start working, we are trying to establish it in our workplace too.

Apparently, creating a sense of belonging is quite important to teams and thus, companies. Only then, do members know that they are part of the team - or even better, they know who they are and what their role is. Only then, can they perform at their best.

So, at the beginning, you should consciously slow down and create a sense of belonging to the members since the greater the sense of belonging, the better their performance is!

Individuals & Teams

And now that you have a team? Well, here comes the tricky part: you have to make them better - both as individuals and as a team.

No one would disagree that stepping out of your comfort zone is where the magic happens. Challenges make us better but keep in mind that you should not do this with a "winning team." It’s good in the short run, but once you have a successful team what you should really do is nurture the members and stimulate them to become better.

It’s just like in football where the players are constantly trying to become better while at the same time to develop their skills in their role! How many times have we seen successful players going to another team and while their skills haven’t changed much (or even not at all), they under perform?

So, when you form a team it's necessary to slow down. Stimulate your members and mark my words, they will become better at what they do, in their respected role!

Adding cultural differences to the equation

Needless to say that all of the above apply to expats too. Getting used to a new working environment is difficult, especially when there are cultural differences too. For expats the sense of belonging we mentioned earlier is closely related to a number of elements that can make them "feel at home."

For example, some expats would find it quite difficult to treat their bosses just like the rest of their colleagues if they are used to hierarchical structures. It takes time and effort to change their perspective and way of thinking, and to finally find a common ground.

How to achieve this? Again, slow down and give your expat team members the time and means to adapt!

How to bond a team

So, let’s go back to the basic question: How to bond a team? Here are some suggestions and tips that will do the trick:

 Create a sense of belonging

Define common values, an identity that represents you and the company, and express them either in words, visually or through a metaphor.

 Define roles

Establish informal yet crystal-clear roles and share your appreciation with each and every one of the members that honours them. Everyone should know exactly what you expect him / her to do.

 Include everyone at some level

Inclusion has become extremely important for companies and teams. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone should participate in the decision making process or any other area or activity.

Just try to compliment those who perform well, or allow everyone to express their opinion during meetings. Put simply, create a safe environment for everyone to speak up, share insights and feel part of the team.

 Name the challenge

This can be a common goal, target, market share or even a competitor - whatever works for your team, as long as it’s something all members can fight for.

It might be wise to talk about the needs of your customers, since at the end of the day they are the ones who will pay for keeping your team together.

 Establish a positive feedback rhythm

Positive feedback should enter the daily "agenda" of your meetings. It should become your daily routine.

Then, and only then, can you have the much-desired transition of "Unconsciously Incompetent" to "Consciously Incompetent" to "Consciously Competent" and finally, to "Unconsciously Competent."

Slow down to speed up!

As a trainer and coach I work a lot with bonding and building teams. In a world where changes are rapid and where teams are mixed, my advice is this one: Slow down and pay attention to people before you speed up and focus on systems, processes and results!

Imagine a car driving 24/7 at full speed. How long do you think it will last? Well, the same applies to people. We also need maintenance, rest and to renew our energy.

So, do you want to bond your team? Just follow the above and slow down to speed up!

Good luck!

In2Motivation is an international personal development training and coaching company run by Peter Koijen. For more information on introduction workshops and international NLP training courses in Amsterdam, please visit the website or send an email.

Peter Koijen


Peter Koijen

owner of in2motivation

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