iStock_000012181084XSmallToday’s post is the last in my five-part series examining the best practices of GREAT bosses.

Are you a great boss to your employees? A great boss is a person who creates and maintains a safe, inspiring work environment where talented, engaged employees THRIVE.

Great bosses create clear performance standards, clear values standards, and hold everyone (including themselves) accountable for both each day.

In these work environments, my research and experience shows that employees perform better (40% or more better), serve customers better (40% or more better), and produce higher profits (30% or more higher).

So far we’ve examined the first four elements in the GREAT acronym: Growth, Relationships, Excellence, and Accountability. Today, I share how #GreatBosses spur Teamwork.

Great bosses know that cooperative interaction among team members maintains trust and respect more than competitive interaction does. They create norms that enable sharing of information, skills, and support across their team.

Great bosses hold teams and their members to high standards, not just for performance but for citizenship, as well. Only when values like cooperation, “win as one team,” and continuous team improvement are measured, monitored and rewarded will team success be as important as individual success.

Most employees are hired because of past accomplishments and current skill sets that contribute to individual production. Those same skills can interfere with effective teaming. Great bosses create a work environment where strong team membership and team leadership skills are built daily.

Great bosses do not tolerate high performers who discount their team or fellow team members. They demand high performance and great team citizenship daily. If a top individual performer does not demonstrate team valued behaviors, they receive coaching and close monitoring to ensure they do. If they are unable to model both performance and values, they are “lovingly set free,” released from employment.

Here are a few ways that great bosses I’ve experienced, observed, and studied spurred teamwork among and across their teams.

Measure team contributions first . . . and individual contribution second. Great bosses place team performance on par with individual team member performance. That may require them to create separate metrics or dashboards to “raise up” team performance. Team member expectations are intentionally defined by the way(s) they contribute to team performance. Great bosses keep team members’ “eyes on the team scoreboard” so everyone knows the progress towards their accomplishment.
Align incentives. Most organizations I’ve worked with have a compensation system that measures and rewards individual contribution, not team contributions. Great bosses know that compensation systems must equally validate individual contribution AND team contribution. Great bosses will fight this fight in their organizations; informal recognition is helpful but will not overcome a purely individually-focused compensation system.
Improve both process and product. Great bosses help their teams focus on how well the team is operating, not just on the team’s performance. Team norms are formalized so that everyone’s voice is heard when discussing options or solutions. Team members rotate through a “process observer” role so each can debrief the team, at the end of each meetings, on how well the team processes are working.
Extend team performance daily. High performing, values-aligned teams aren’t as inspired by beating other teams as they are with beating their own best performance. Great bosses push teams to do better, faster, creatively so that the team’s contributions and value to their company grow.

Contribute your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below. In what ways have your great bosses spurred effective teamwork practices? How did your great boss leverage team member skills to benefit the whole team?

What is it like to live in your organization’s culture? Share your experiences in my fast & free Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis are described on my blog’s research page.

This research can help you refine your organization’s corporate culture. Contact me to discuss conducting the Performance-Values Assessment in your company.

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S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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