When I ran a staffing office the hardest job to fill was one for my team in the office. There was extra stress for me to make the right decision because we spent so much time together. Our environment was high stress and if I brought the wrong person into the mix it was going to make it that much harder.
I know that we all at some point or another work with someone we don’t like. I learned very early in my career to find a way to work with people I didn’t like, but when it’s a high stress environment and I can avoid bringing someone in that’s going to rub the rest of the team the wrong way I’m going to do my best to avoid it.
It’s much easier to avoid people you don’t necessarily enjoy working with when its a larger organization, but when its a small team you inevitably have to interact.
I recommend offices with a small team find little ways to have fun together during the work week. It’s also important to be as transparent as possible because trust is a huge element to the success of a small team. The funny thing is, the more you bond the more you learn to trust each other.
A few minor ways I would tackle this in our 6 person office:
- I would often order lunch in for my team and we would lock the doors and ignore the phones for an hour. It wasn’t the corporate offices favorite idea, but I needed to be able to protect a lunch break for my team and the best way to do that was to close the office for the hour and all of us take a lunch break at once. We found that sometimes in staggered lunch schedules it could get tense when someone was waiting on someone else before they could leave.
- Sometimes we would take a break to play horse in the office with a small back of the door basketball hoop. No pressure, just to walk away from a project for a few minutes and reset.
- I would turn training into small 15 minute training games that were interactive. For example, to train the team to think faster on their feet we would tell stories where someone would start and then hand off to the next person. I would put a bunch of items in a bag and the team would each get to pull one out and take 3 minutes to sell it to the rest of the group. They were cheesy, but they also served a purpose and allowed us all time to laugh together and share suggestions for improvement.
If you can’t find SOME WAY for your small team to have a little bit of fun together at work, your small team is in trouble. Take 15 minutes this week to put your team in one room and have a laugh. Then do it again next week.