Anyone who ever played a high school sport has heard a coach expound that there is no "I" to be found in "T-E-A-M." When players work together, the whole will indeed be greater than the sum of its par...
Anyone who ever played a high school sport has heard a coach expound that there is no “I” to be found in “T-E-A-M.” When players work together, the whole will indeed be greater than the sum of its parts.
Yet establishing such a team can be easier said than done. In the trucking industry, after all, most employees are required to work independently – it’s often what attracts them to the business in the first place.
“Team-building is quite a challenge because people tend to be individualistic and [they] tend to be held responsible for individual results,” admits Don MacRae, president of the Lachlan Group, a management consulting firm based in Aurora, Ont.
Still, there are steps that you can take to help your employees work together more effectively.
Set common performance goals
“You have to pull together what the team focus is; the specific performance goals,” MacRae explains. “The key there is that the team comes first … whatever the team puts together for goals and objectives, these must come in front of [personal targets].”
The traditional idea of a company mission statement is only the beginning, adds John Oesch, assistant professor of organizational behaviour at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. A team’s goals need to clearly outline how the group is expected to work together, along with specific performance goals, how they will be measured, and who will be held accountable.
Identify the challenges
One of the most effective tools in the teambuilding process will involve a room full of people and a flip chart to record their thoughts.
Team members need to identify any potential barriers to their goals, the consequences of these problems, and what needs to happen to address the issues, MacRae says. “You really have to get people seated together, focusing on whatever the issue is, and going through it step by step.”
Ensure that team goals are achievable
Keep in mind, however, that nothing will frustrate a team more than goals that are out of reach. “If they don’t perceive they have the power, that needs to be changed,” Oesch adds.
Make the goals measurable
While there are certain intangibles to a successful team, its goals must still be measurable to help determine when efforts have been effective.
“If it’s not specific and it’s hard to measure, then people tend not to act,” MacRae says.
Customers and other people who interact with a team will be able to judge whether a teambuilding exercise has been successful, Oesch adds, referring to the importance of feedback from these groups.
Give individuals a chance to bond
Even though truckers work independently, it’s also important to arrange for opportunities that will let them get together with the other employees.
Says MacRae: “Like any team, there has to be some bonding. They have to have common shared experiences and values. The chemistry is important.”
At the very least, common social events will help people put faces to the names on a chart.
The shift at one fleet became apparent when the numbers designating trucks on a dispatcher’s board were replaced with the names of their drivers.
Successful teams need to reap rewards for their efforts, and they don’t always have to come in the form of monetary bonuses, Oesch says, referring to the value of recognition that can be offered in a variety of forms.
And successful efforts at developing formal goals and vision statements shouldn’t be judged by their complexity, he adds. “The most successful organizations, their procedure manuals get smaller every year. People just know what to do.”
For more information about sound human resources practices go to www.cthrc.com.
The Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council (CTHRC) is an incorporated non-profit organization with a volunteer Board of Directors that is representative of stakeholders from the Canadian trucking industry. With the conviction that the best human resources skills and practices are essential to the attainment of excellence by the Canadian trucking industry, the mission of the Council is “to assist the Canadian trucking industry to recruit, train and retain the human resources needed to meet current and long-term requirements.”
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