Building a connected and engaged team is a common challenge for many leaders. We’ve gathered 13 strategies from founders, CEOs, and other top executives to help you tackle this issue. From introducing personalized challenges to utilizing pulse surveys, discover the diverse ways these leaders foster connection and engagement within their teams.
- Introduce Personalized Challenges
- Organize Company Trips
- Share Personal Life Stories
- Try Communication Tools like Slack
- Conduct One-On-One Meetings
- Take a “Moderation by Turns” Approach
- Establish an Employer-Employee Charter
- Overcome Challenges Together
- Promote Autonomous Learning
- Implement Agile Methodology
- Create a Healthy Working Environment
- Host Team Events
- Utilize Pulse Surveys
Introduce Personalized Challenges
One way to improve employees’ motivation and keep them enthusiastic about their work, both individually and as part of a team, is to introduce weekly or monthly “challenges” related to fitness, self-care, or general work that fits into their day-to-day tasks.
I find that making the challenges more personal and allowing employees to have autonomy—for example, setting the goal as “self-care”, but letting them individually decide what that means to them—makes them more invested in completing the challenges.
Organize Company Trips
One impactful strategy for nurturing connection and engagement within a team is by organizing company trips. These outings serve as an acknowledgment of your team’s hard work and can also foster camaraderie, taking people away from the routine grind and offering a refreshing break.
To make these trips successful, set achievable goals and plan interesting activities that cater to everyone’s interests. Construct a budget that covers meals, entertainment, and logistics, and be mindful of group dynamics. Carefully plan activities that encourage various interactions and ensure everyone’s participation. Creating a clear roadmap with timelines and objectives for each phase of the trip keeps everyone aligned.
Last but not least, stay flexible and open to adjustments that can enrich the overall experience. Company trips are an excellent blend of work, team-building, sightseeing, and fun, designed to strengthen the team bond.
Share Personal Life Stories
One strategy for fostering connection and engagement within a team is to establish personal connections among members. An example could be an exchange of life stories, with each member in the team given time to tell their story and how they got to where they are now.
This provides context and understanding, allowing every individual to recognize their peers’ strengths as well as shared values which align them as a group. Furthermore, it creates an atmosphere of warmth and openness, fostering mutually beneficial conversations that can facilitate collaboration towards common goals.
Try Communication Tools like Slack
As the head of a recruiting firm, I’ve noticed a marked improvement in teamwork and engagement since we started using Slack as our primary communication portal. While we have various chats for different topics and assignments, all team members are present on all channels and send any questions directly to the group.
While members have the option of muting the app during their busy hours, someone eventually replies to the entire group and that keeps everyone in the loop. I also encourage quieter employees to participate more in group chats to appear as equal members of the team.
Moreover, our Watercooler Slack channel has become a hit among the team. When I notice silence, I post a prompt there myself to get the conversation going.
Conduct One-On-One Meetings
One strategy that’s been a game-changer for fostering connection and engagement within teams at PRLab is having regular one-on-one meetings with colleagues from different departments. Not only does this allow you to build a robust network, but it also uncovers potential collaboration opportunities between various team members.
I usually schedule monthly catch-ups or informal coffee chats with my peers. These meetings are low-pressure and a fantastic way to understand their unique challenges and perspectives. Trust me, these simple connections can go a long way in nurturing a cohesive and collaborative work environment. It’s truly an investment worth making.
Take a “Moderation by Turns” Approach
One example of our team’s initiative for fostering connection and engagement is “Moderation by Turns.” Each week, a different team member takes on the role of the moderator during team meetings.
The moderator’s responsibility is to ask an interesting and thought-provoking question before the meeting, encouraging meaningful discussions beyond work tasks. For instance, they may ask questions like, “If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and how would you use it to benefit others?” This prompts team members to tap into their creativity and gain insights into one another.
Additionally, the moderator also challenges the team to step out of their comfort zones, such as speaking only English for a week, as they are native German speakers. This initiative helps the team develop their communication skills and create an inclusive environment. The team appreciates how this initiative brings them closer together, fosters personal growth, and keeps their meetings exciting and engaging.
Establish an Employer-Employee Charter
All a business can ask from an employee is that they do the work and they act reasonably. But if you’re going to spend hours and hours together every day, then it helps to establish some kind of mutual agreement around things like communication styles, work ethic, and so on.
We have an employer-employee charter that acts as a two-sided promise: as an employer we promise this, so as an employee, you promise that. This helps to codify the rules of engagement and puts parameters around how we connect within the team.
It says, “You don’t have to follow any of this, but it would make everyone’s lives easier if you did, including your own. It makes it easier to work as a team and creates a better environment.” So, try making your own charter.
Overcome Challenges Together
Nothing quite brings a team together like the feeling of being elite, and nothing fosters that feeling better than overcoming a difficult challenge together.
Oftentimes fate will throw one of those events at your team, but I prefer to organize a challenge that is a bit less sink or swim. The nature of this challenge will most definitely depend on the team in question—a manager I know had a team that was all runners so they decided to do a tough mudder together, for example—but finding something even if it isn’t work-related should hopefully not be too difficult.
Promote Autonomous Learning
You have to set the learning environment out correctly from the onboarding process onwards, with a focus heavily on the autonomy of learning for each member of staff.
Ensure that you have processes in place to provide bespoke training programs with proper budgets for your staff so that they can spend based on how they best learn, not how they’re simply told to learn.
Implement Agile Methodology
One strategy for fostering connection and engagement within a team that has worked well for us is implementing an Agile methodology.
This approach emphasizes regular collaboration and communication among team members, enabling us to stay connected and engaged on a daily basis. Through daily stand-up meetings, we provide updates on project progress, discuss challenges, and seek input from team members. This fosters a sense of connection as everyone is aware of each other’s tasks and can offer support or suggestions when needed.
Additionally, Agile promotes transparency and encourages feedback loops, enabling continuous improvement. Regular retrospectives allow us to reflect on our teamwork, identify areas for growth, and implement changes to enhance our effectiveness.
Create a Healthy Working Environment
The best way to foster connection and engagement within a team is to make everyone feel safe and comfortable. This means that you have to create and foster a healthy working environment where employees are not afraid to voice their thoughts. This will encourage better connections as healthy discussions among employees happen.
Empowering a healthy boundary between work and personal life will also foster better engagement within the team as work-related issues are discussed more during working hours. Hence, ensuring that employees’ tasks are doable within working hours is very important.
Host Team Events
It’s always best if it’s hosted at a team member’s home, as the hospitality definitely fosters engagement and openness. The office is a good second-best option.
For remote teams, get together in a co-working space or play remotely. Whatever the case, the friendly banter and low stakes are a great way to foster engagement and vulnerability. As an added bonus, you’ll learn who the real card sharks are.
Utilize Pulse Surveys
One strategy that has been crucial for fostering connection and engagement within our team is the frequent use of pulse surveys. It’s something we’ve found effective for real-time insights into employee satisfaction and engagement. Instead of waiting for annual reviews, we conduct these surveys on a regular basis, sometimes monthly or even weekly.
Pulse surveys not only allow us to structure our company policies better but they also send a strong message to our team. It shows that we care about creating a positive environment and are proactive in gauging employee wellness and motivation.
The fact that these surveys are anonymous encourages open and honest feedback, offering a sense of empowerment to our team members who may otherwise be hesitant to share their thoughts. The outcome? A more engaged team, aligned with our vision, and ready to give their best.