Employees sometimes see HR departments as the ultimate guardians of company interests. While there’s truth in this perception, the scale and scope of HR units have been growing to encompass talent management, retention, employee adaptability, diversity, and many more. When HR departments and policies lag behind in today’s fast-changing world, employees have limited incentives to adapt, learn, and advance.

What’s more, HR units in successful companies and organizations are rediscovering themselves as the primary enablers and motivators of team building. After all, developing a sense of camaraderie within an entity constitutes the foundational building block for a result-oriented, delivering organization. So, what are some of the methods you can apply to improve your team? Take a look. 

improve your team

Photo by Edmond Dantès

Overcoming the fear of failure

I’m sure you have all been there. We know learning is a key aspect of team building, organizational development, and effective project management. But there is no learning without making mistakes. If there is a genuine commitment to fostering iterative and continuous learning, HR units should take the lead in embracing the reality of human error and nurturing an environment that enables, not disables. 

Encourage top executives in your company to act as role models. Ask them to set a precedent by talking about personal failures and resulting learning points. Encourage them to make it substantive (as opposed to something like, ‘I forget to thank people for the great work they do’), not to make it one of those boring, pro forma speeches. 

No one’s going to listen. Encourage them to focus on something serious if they want to nurture a genuine culture of learning. 

Avoid stovepiping 

HR units often have and lead a life of their own. That is a kind of culture that no longer flies in today’s interconnected and interdependent world. Success will remain beyond your reach if there is no sense of belonging, ownership, and camaraderie. There’s always a need to learn new methods for HR to improve your team. Therefore, HR units must be proactive in facilitating cross-office or cross-departmental collaboration. 

Again, a genuine and result-oriented process is what we’re looking for as opposed to mechanistic or pro forma processes. You don’t want to make people feel like they are going through the motions. How much do your finance folks know about strategic planning? Does your legal department talk to those working in the field? How much do you, as an HR person, know about communications strategies? 

You can start with a series of informal conversations to get the ball rolling, giving your colleagues space to open up. Stereotypes and established routines are not easy to break, so allow time and show patience. Sooner than you think, you’ll start seeing great ideas about fostering cross-fertilization, synergies, and, eventually, symbiotic relationships.

Objectives and Key Results (OKR)

This is not exactly a new tool, but it has stood the test of time, and a number of its variants have been developed ever since it was conceived several decades ago. OKR is rooted in the concept of developing a coherent set of performance objectives for all employees. Specific targets will vary, of course, but the idea is to have them designed with a view to the overall strategic goal of the company.

Irrespective of your job role, none of your annual objectives is any good if it does not contribute to the overall purpose. Think of individual performance objectives as lighthouses that guide your ship to the ultimate destination. Set them, gauge progress, learn, and revise them to correct or change course.

It is important to ensure that employees are free to share their objectives with one another. This promotes both transparency and mutual trust.

Google was the first company to adopt the approach successfully. Bono was and still is a big fan and proponent of OKR. It’s a simple tool that can drive your organization to ultimate success with minimal and cost-effective inputs.

Using technology

It would be a missed opportunity if I didn’t mention technology. With so many software options, apps, and tools, there is probably too much available to our liking. It is not my intention to cover them all, but I cannot help mentioning a few that merit your consideration. 

Culture Amp is a well-tested tool for employee engagement. It is designed to develop personalized solutions for effective and continuous development. It can also be used to collect feedback, track progress, and facilitate dialogue. 

Leapsome is another good one, designed to close the gap between performance management, staff engagement, and iterative learning. Its developers also promote Leapsome as one of the best and most easy-to-use tools for objective setting.

HR managers love Typelane for its ease of use, especially when it comes to onboarding new employees. This is an all-in-one platform that helps track the entire employee life cycle. 

There are many more. I just pointed to a handful of good resources. The idea is to find one that matches your goals and organizational culture best.

Don’t forget we are human

While technology, software, and platforms make our busy lives easier and less time-consuming, don’t forget that we are not AI-engineered. It’s important to understand and respond to employee needs and aspirations. 

Encourage empathy and work with people to help them with their personal and professional development needs. Those who combine work and studies may need professional dissertation assistance to manage their academic workloads. Help them maintain a healthy work-life and work-study balance.

Don’t substitute human relations and interactions with digital tools. Make sure you give people the breathing space to take breaks, enjoy human interaction, and simply talk. 

Final Thoughts

HR policies and tools must keep pace with fast-changing developments around us. With change being the only constant in the world, they must draw on innovative as well as well-tested tools to foster team-building as an ultimate prerequisite for result-oriented success.