3 ways to build employee interaction

When it comes to being a part of a team, communication is essential, says Cyndi Roberts, manager of food services and clinical nutrition at St. Joseph Memorial Hospital in Murphysboro, Ill. Communication builds trust, she adds, which helps to improve staff relationships and teamwork. Here are three exercises she uses—with a bag and some change—to get her employees to better engage one another.  

1. There’s value in peer recognition

During each week’s team huddle, one employee’s name is picked out of a bag. Everyone then goes around the room stating what they believe are the person’s positive attributes and why that individual is an asset to the team. Roberts says the practice reassures staff that they have each other’s backs. “This practice also helps us all recognize that we all contribute something to the success of the department and the team,” she says. “It helps to foster a sense of belonging and purpose by having coworkers state how the person impacts the team and the department, too.” 

2. Relating through ‘change’

At meetings, Roberts has every team member choose a coin. Then everyone shares a memory associated with the year on his or her coin. The purpose is to get a glimpse of people outside of the work environment, Robert says, adding that employees have shared stories about marriage, graduations and births. “When we get to know people on a more human level, we have a better understanding of their wants, needs, personalities, and maybe even better ways to communicate with them. I think we also find common ground with people that maybe we think are really different, but aren’t that different at all.”

3. Getting back to the basics

The company’s objectives and principles are reviewed regularly by having one employee per team meeting choose an objective to consider. A group discussion then follows about how everyone can apply that commitment to their work, either individually or as a team. “This tactic has helped to break down the territorial nature of our department; it’s not so-and-so’s job anymore,” Roberts says. “We are all responsible for holding up to our responsibilities and helping others when they need it.”

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