A professional group of five people working in a team environment.

What’s it like working in a team environment? What makes a team environment healthy?

Once you’ve started delegating work to your team members to tackle key projects, Claire Hughes Johnson recommends you continuously develop a healthy team environment. There are two primary modes of doing this: offsites, which are multiple-day events outside the office, and regular meetings.

Continue reading for more on the two modes that create an environment your employees are comfortable in.

Mode #1: Offsites

Hughes Johnson explains that offsites can transform mere groups of employees into a unified team by offering a chance for deeper connection than is possible in the office. To execute a successful offsite, she recommends that you implement three strategies while working in a team environment: using a common scheduling document that lists the order of activities before the offsite, beginning your offsites with vulnerable check-ins, and utilizing an agenda that keeps each individual offsite activity structured. 

Before the offsite even begins, Hughes Johnson advises sharing a scheduling document with all of your team members that outlines the itinerary for the offsite, clarifies its purposes, and provides room for feedback. Such documents have several advantages: They make team members feel included, for example, and ensure that your offsite is oriented around a central purpose. 

Once you’ve made it to the offsite, she recommends starting each day with a quick briefing in which team members share their candid feelings about the offsite and their goals for the day. For example, you might share that you’re anxious about the offsite because you don’t want to be away from your family, but that your goal is to grow more comfortable with your team. Hughes Johnson writes that such briefings are crucial for fostering vulnerability among team members, and can also help remind them of their driving purpose.

Finally, for each individual activity at the offsite, Hughes Johnson recommends that you reiterate its purpose and agenda before beginning. She suggests that this agenda will help provide a structure that maximizes your chance of meeting your goals for every single activity.

Further Strategies for Running Effective Offsites

In addition to Hughes Johnson’s advice for running offsites, business leaders offer several further strategies for ensuring you make the most of your offsite. For example, you should: 

  • Carefully consider which employees to invite, since it can be difficult to run an effective offsite with too many people.
  • Focus on bigger picture work issues, rather than day-to-day tasks, since offsites are more likely to have lasting impacts if they resolve long-term problems.
  • Develop a concrete plan at the end of the offsite detailing what each employee should do to meet their and the company’s goals. This ensures the implementation of any solutions proposed at the offsite.

Mode #2: Meetings

Because offsites typically occur only twice a year, Hughes Johnson adds that regular meetings provide a more consistent means of reinforcing your team’s culture. Successful meetings, she explains, require both a solid foundation laid ahead of time and sharp execution of the meeting plan.

First, to lay the foundation for your meetings, decide your roles, goals, and norms ahead of time. Setting meeting roles involves deciding, for example, who will take notes, who will present, and who will help facilitate transitions from one presentation to another. To establish your goals, consider your team’s broader long-term purpose to decide what steps can be taken toward this purpose in any given meeting. And finally, your norms are the agreed-upon behaviors and actions that are acceptable in meetings—for instance, whether it’s expected that meetings will begin and end exactly on time and whether it’s permissible to raise hands in the middle of a presentation.

Next, when running the meeting, stick closely to your agenda to ensure you meet your goals. To do so, Hughes Johnson recommends sharing the agenda ahead of time so that everyone’s on the same page about the meeting structure. And although no one meeting structure will work for every team, she suggests that using meeting check-ins and check-outs—just like in the offsites—will further strengthen your team’s trust and comradery.

Further Strategies for Running Effective Meetings

To supplement Hughes Johnson’s tips for running meetings effectively, experts offer a wide variety of additional strategies. For example: 

  • Limit the number of employees present to around 12, because it’s difficult to maintain an organized meeting when there are too many people involved.
  • Avoid circulating the agenda too far in advance, as many employees will lose or forget about it if they receive it too early.
  • Tackle problems that require creative thinking at the start, since energy is typically highest when meetings begin.
  • Encourage employees to openly debate the merits of different ideas to determine which ideas are worth pursuing.
  • Ask the most senior employees to share their ideas last, so that junior employees don’t simply defer to them instead of sharing their own ideas.
Working in a Team Environment: How to Make It Healthy & Safe

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *