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Section 14  Building Team Spirit

          Team spirit is hard to define but it is easy to see and feel in action. Although team spirit tends to go on by itself, it takes a skilled team leader to nurture it and enhance team productivity and results.

 Peter Lindham defines team spirit as the feeling that grows with in a working group. It is when one team member can trust another member and when the best interest of the group is aligned with the best interest of each team member. He further suggests some guidelines to help build team spirit of the members on your team:  

Hold monthly “team improvement” sessions. 

 Here, team members can point out to each other good opportunities to perform at a higher level. Encouraging team members to experiment with unusual ideas or approaches that seem to have potential value. Deciding on their own what and when to do it not only improves productivity, but also team spirit.  

Making the team accountable. 

 Part of taking responsibility for success is being willing to have your effort measured and evaluated. Team spirit increases when each member recognizes that his or her contribution is a vital part of the overall effort. Whether the team measures itself in overall effectiveness, patient satisfaction responses or project completion, the mere process leads to growth of team spirit.  

Over time select team members who are right for the team.

            Select true “team players” and transfer away or even let go of those who tend to tear the team apart. A winning team cannot be developed without having the right team members to put foreword a coordinated and highly motivated effort toward an agreed on goal. 

Work to create a supportive team environment. 

            Just collecting people in a group won’t build a team spirit unless the entire organization rewards cooperation and collaborative work methods. An example of such a work effort could be team oriented performance evaluations. 

Challenge the team to help the organization.  

            Team spirit thrives in an atmosphere filled with short term assignments, mid term goals and long term missions linked directly to the organization’s health and survival. When the team knows its work is important and valuable, each team member tends to feel a stronger commitment level.  

Create a team identity.

It takes more than a T-shirt, although that can certainly help! Teams with strong spirit and good productivity tend to hold common goals and values. They like to utilize the same methods of problem solving and decision making and they know the importance of expressing their team’s uniqueness to themselves and each other.  

Encourage the team to use its initiative. 

            Tackling problems, taking assignments on its own initiate, reaching decisions and allocating resources, are a few examples. Taking chances or risks and exploring new opportunities all boost a team’s spirit level.  

             [Peter Lindham. Team Management  (New York: Phiffer and Sons Publishers, 1995), 138].