You can trace the vast majority of all conflict within a team back to the lack of clarification around healthy and agreed upon values and/or a lack of reinforcement of those values.
Many companies have an old set of value statements, written by a founder or previous management team. These values might hang on the wall or be pasted into collateral. Whether these speak of the priority of the customer and providing excellent service or of treating others with respect or of being innovative, there are a few steps any management team can take to make this essential element of strategy more impactful and to fuel accelerated growth.
To have values work as a tool for improving teamwork and reducing conflict, start by having your team answer a few key questions each year. This can be facilitated in an all "hands-on-deck" exercise or in divisions, but in the latter case, the results need to be fed back to the entire team after all have participated.
The initial key questions are: How do employees and customers want to be treated in the workplace? What is important to us as an organization? And how will we deal with it when someone doesn't live up to our values?
Since people tend to support what they help to create, everyone should have input into these answers.
To supercharge the values in an organization and transform them into strategic growth-oriented values, we also need to ask teams two other questions: "How should we conduct our work, work with each other and customers? What kind of environment do we need to foster in our company, in our work and in our relationships in order to absolutely maximize joy in the workplace as well as the growth rate, profitability and stability of this company?"
Have every employee openly discuss the top traits, qualities, ways, habits, environments and attitudes, (i.e. values) that are needed to live and work by, and list this out. The list will usually have several dozen potential values.
Then ask each individual to privately list the top six of those values that they feel are the highest priority values that will most accelerate growth and improve satisfaction, happiness and profitability in the workplace. Next, have employees team up in twos and agree on the top six values together, then repeat the same process in teams of four, then eight, etc., until the entire team has come up with what they have prioritized and agreed on as a list of the top six to 10 values that will create the optimum environment.
As facilitators, our company then conducts a similar process around the question, "How will we deal with it when one of us doesn't live up to our value statements?" This is a much tougher but more important question, and yet key to ensuring that the values become the reality.
Most teambuilding exercises like rope courses and falling backwards into your co-workers' arms are a waste of time compared to having the team create growth-oriented values and strategic growth objectives that will work to accelerate growth. These exercises will also help to create emotional ownership (C.E.O.), of your growth-oriented culture. We've seen the values clarification process become key to helping double the size of companies while making for a much happier workplace. This process can be transformational to cultures in need of a boost or turnaround. Revisit your values regularly and reinforce them both with accountability efforts and recognition of your exemplars.