Winning teams - Business Works
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Winning teams

David Saul, MD, Business Environment If you watched the Euro 2012 final recently, you’ll have seen how effective a team working well together can be. A side that fully understands and works tirelessly for each other has become close to unbeatable.

In this respect, Spain’s football offers a topical analogy for the workplace. We know that a team ready to pull together, passionate about its work and willing to support each other will get results.

Because team spirit is such an important determinant of business success, it is crucial that businesses create a company culture that fosters a positive working environment and encourages team members to thrive.

The importance of this has been underlined by government research, including the 2009 MacLeod review, which showed how leadership, line management, employee voice and integrity are key to ensuring engagement, finding that 'the correlation between engagement, well-being and performance is repeated too often for it to be a coincidence'.

But, while there’s little doubt about the importance of employee engagement, how to create a company culture that fosters this is less clear-cut.

Of the simple steps business owners in almost any sector can take in order to improve their company culture, one key starting point is a readiness to acknowledge that employees in most organisations are sometimes required to go above and beyond the call of duty.

For employers, it’s absolutely crucial to adequately recognise this, preferably with a special reward system for exceptional work.

While some employees perform well despite their good work not being recognised – there are plenty of people who believe in the importance of always giving their best – it wouldn’t be at all surprising if they started looking for a job elsewhere.

Next, there’s a company’s approach to appraisals, which can be the difference between offering valuable feedback and de-motivating employees.

A review in which a manager reels off a shopping list of required improvements is likely to prove a morale damaging experience. On the other hand, a rounded appraisal that highlights areas where they’re particularly happy with a member of the team and outlines achievable goals, as well as a plan to help the team member reach these, is likely to prove beneficial both for the business and the employee.

On the subject of staff development, willingness to enrol team members in training programmes or assign employees mentors is important in building a strong team and enabling employees to improve skills and knowledge for personal and professional development.

Beyond reward systems and appraisals, forward-thinking companies are increasingly broadening their approach to creating positive working environments.

This is reflected in the methodology used to compile the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For lists. Besides questioning employees on holiday allowance and pay, the Sunday Times also asks how proud they are to work for their company and whether they find it easy to be eco-friendly in the workplace.

This is a clear indicator that the importance of empowering employees to make a difference in their communities is being increasingly recognised. Whether by offering them extra days’ paid leave, on top of their normal holiday allowance, to take part in charitable initiatives, or sponsoring employees in their fundraising, companies can help staff make a valuable difference outside of working hours.

While you may not gain the headlines of arguably the best football side ever, fostering team spirit and a sense of togetherness through creating a positive working environment can make a real difference to business success, personal development and the wider community.

David Saul is managing director at Business Environment. He has previously worked for commercial estate agents Michael Laurie and Partners, and chartered surveyors Norman, Hirschfield, Ryde and Brown. After five years in the industry David set up his own surveyors practice, but later sold the company to his partners to focus on building his own property portfolio. By 1990 he was their biggest client with a portfolio worth £100 million. In 1993, David teamed up with Simon Rusk to set up Business Environment. Within two years they had made their first £1 million, hitting £10 million per annum within five years.

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