With the Super Bowl just around the corner, it seems timely to talk about teams and team building. Where would your small business be without a group of employees working together to promote your values and achieve your small business goals? Since strong teams are built and don’t just happen, you need to make team building a priority at your small business.

The adoption of flexible and remote work arrangements  can make team building more challenging than it was when everyone worked together under the same roof. Still the basic principles of good team building remain the same. Furthermore with today’s unified communications technology even the most widely dispersed teams have an array of messaging, conferencing and calling capabilities to use across a range of devices to keep connected and collaborate no matter where they are.

Team building basics

Set the agenda: Getting along is important but there needs to be a higher vision for your team. Start by asking yourself what is the purpose of your team in relation to your business goals? Consider how each member of your team needs to contribute to achieve your goals.

Define roles: Each member of your team will have a different role in reaching your small business objectives. Define those roles and the corresponding responsibilities that go with them so that everyone understands what you expect of them and other team members. By doing so, you encourage teamwork and eliminate the competitiveness that often arises in an organization.

Keep learning alive: Keep your team motivated and enthusiastic by providing opportunities for them to learn and improve their skills. Some of the training my involve taking courses or bringing in instructors. Also encourage your team to work together to learn from each other and collaborate to come up with new ideas and approaches to making improvements at your small business.

Give feedback: If something isn’t working, let your employees know with objective feedback. Work with your team to solve the problem together.

Acknowledge achievement: Acknowledge the achievements of your team, as well as individual performance. When you give credit to your team for handling a difficult situation, solving a problem or coming up with a creative idea, you motivate everyone to work together

Maintain strong bonds with remote employees

In “Out of Sight, Out of Mind? 5 Team Bonding Tips for Remote Employees,” Samantha McDuffee suggests several things you can do to keep the bonds strong with team members who are working remotely. Among her recommendations:

Don’t cut the chit chat: Since remote employees don’t have the same opportunities to make small talk – by the water cooler or over a cup of coffee – as team members who come into the office, build time for talk into group audio or video conferencing meetings. Spend a few minutes at the start of each meeting discussing personal updates. Even ask team members to send in photos of each other to share at the start of a video conference.

Reply all: To get employees to know each other on a more personal level, send out an icebreaker question in an email. Then ask everyone to “reply all” in answering the question. It could be as simple as “did anyone see a particular movie” or “what are your vacation plans?’

Get into games: For fun, encourage you team to engage in online games. It can bring out the competitive spirit. Customize a game with trivia questions about some of your small business policies or others that are just for fun.

Team building is essential to building your small business. Keep everyone engaged and connected to score big.