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A great team doesn't materialize in the first week of a project. It takes time and the right environment to grow. The following reminders can help you to establish a great working environment from the beginning and make sure that your team has the potential to come together as the project moves forward.
Make sure that everyone feels as if they're part of the team. Many times cliques form and no one realizes it. This is especially apparent to new employees, who often feel left out. Do your best to avoid excluding anyone.
Just like parents, managers shouldn't have favorites. Showing favoritism demoralizes and excludes those who are on the outside. When dealing with employees, try to treat them all according to the same set of rules. This builds trust and respect in the workplace.
Emphasize hard work and cooperation. Try to build a culture where everyone is committed to working together to produce the best game possible.
Define success. Point out what success and failure mean in terms of the business and its customers. Provide a mechanism for monitoring results, and make sure each employee knows exactly how they fit into the overall success of the company.
Achieving a goal gives us a sense of completion that can re-invigorate us for the next leg of the race. But often the big goals-the major milestones of a production are months apart and filled with stressful moments. Don't hang the morale of the team on these major milestones, instead, set mini, internal deliverables along the way. Publicize the completion of these mini-deliverables within the team to boost confidence and re-energize the team.
Try to break down the walls between groups. Make each group see itself as part of greater whole. Structure rewards and recognition around company-wide objectives, not group politics. Emphasize the big picture and the vision, so that everyone feels like part of the larger organization.
Make sure that everyone is on the same schedule and adheres to a single plan. Many times one group's deliverables are contingent uponanother's. Bring the groups together at the start, even if they are in totally different departments, and open up channels of communication whereby everyone in the company can track the progress of everyone else. This way each group can adjust their schedules accordingly.
Make sure each group knows what its tasks are and accepts responsibility for deliverables and deadlines.
Make sure every individual knows his or her role. All team members should have a clear idea about what is expected of them. Also, everyone in the company should know who to turn to for various functions. Clarify any confusion in roles or overlapping duties. Allow people to take ownership and fulfill on their obligations to the other team members.
You must know exactly who you need on your team. A great team is made up of people with different kinds of expertise. Make sure you have the right combination of people with the right skills to get the job done. Good planning in advance is crucial if you are going to bring together the right people.
Set up a mechanism by which individuals and groups are evaluated. Both managers and peers should be involved in the evaluation process, and it should be based on clear criteria so that everyone feels it is as fair and accurate as possible. The evaluation should then be delivered in an open and constructive environment so that it helps the employee to improve and become better integrated with the team.
Decisions shouldn't be made from the top down. Good managers delegate decisions and monitor results. Hire people you trust and give them the freedom to make mistakes. Teams run from the top down can become bottlenecked and inefficient.
Accept that different people have different cultural backgrounds, personalities, outlooks, skills, strengths, and weakness. Encourage everyone to be themselves. Don't look for one type of person, but look for the best in each person. Try to find jobs that suit each individual and allow them to contribute the most they can to the team effort.
Make sure there's lateral as well as vertical communication. Problems should be addressed between groups. Structure your teams so that they are constantly talking to each other. Schedule weekly or even daily meetings between and within groups. Every group should know exactly what every other group is doing and who to talk to if there's a problem. Make these details public and distribute them to every member of your team.
Ensure that each group has the support it needs to get the job done, whether this is technical support, computer equipment, training, etc. Monitor this and have a way for groups to obtain the support they're lacking.
Encourage an environment of where people accept blame for their mistakes. Make it an issue of pride to stand up and admit that you make an error. Discourage blame shifting and political games. Foster a culture of honesty by holding up examples of people who take responsibility for their actions.
Make sure your team is rewarded for their actions. Small gifts or simply recognition of a job well done can be a huge morale booster.
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