Building Foundational Relationships

Having a cohesive unit in the workplace ensures team camaraderie and, ultimately, success on any project you may take on. “It takes a village” isn’t just a saying that applies to raising children. It also applies in the workplace, on every level of management. As the CIO, it’s your job to build, encourage and foster that camaraderie so that it infiltrates every sector of your team. That’s how goals are met, marathons won, and deals made. It’s about more than the end game, though. It’s more important to have a cohesive team working in unison like a well-oiled machine through every stage in the process. When a team is disjointed, any bump in the road could derail the train. When acting in unison, a team can weather any storm.

According to LinkedIn, employees who work in an environment marked by friendship and laughter will be more creative and less stressed, which equals higher productivity and increased innovation. In addition to that, collaboration in pursuit of a common goal bridges gaps and makes people feel more connected to one another.

How can you go about building team camaraderie?

Address conflict head on: Most people think that if they can just avoid conflict and keep the peace with other members of the group, they can avoid those uncomfortable disagreements that can damage a team. However, just the opposite is true. Conflict that’s not resolved properly will fester over time, causing far more damage to the team than if it were discussed head on earlier.

Respect the differences of your team: Everyone brings something unique to the team dynamic. Not everyone will be good at leading a meeting, and not everyone will be good at strategizing. The important thing is that every team member brings his own strengths to the table. As the CIO, it’s important for you to recognize the value each person walks into that conference room with. When you value a team member for his strengths rather than weaknesses, this bolsters the strengths of everyone else in the room.

Let each team member own their portion of the project: Every project, group and team needs a leader, that’s a fact. However, when that leader tries to own every aspect of the goal and has trouble trusting others or delegating tasks, the rest of the team feels under-valued, under-appreciated, and under-utilized. Delegating properly means you are giving a piece of the project away to each team member, entrusting them to follow through and own that portion of the responsibility. Your team members will then feel like they’re integral to the outcome, rather than just a cog in the machine.

Involve the team in something other than work: Team building begins with people, and when you foster that basic desire to learn about one another and motivate one another, you can expect much better results when it comes time to actually work. Forget the competitions that pit employee against employee to achieve the highest sales for the month. One way to do that is to involve your team in some kind of office goal, such as a health or fitness plan. Give each member of the team a step tracker and reward the person with the most steps taken each month. A simple goal…a clear objective…a healthy way to encourage team work…often this is the ice breaker that allows you to bring your group together.

Break out of the norm: Teachers do it all the time when their kids need to get out of the classroom setting and into an adaptive and interactive learning experience: they take a field trip. Your team needs a break too. You don’t always have to hold stifled meetings in the board room. Take them out for coffee, treat them to lunch, or suggest a casual meeting outside on a nice day under a shady tree. Sometimes a change of scenery can go a long way toward re-charging everyone’s batteries, inspiring a new line of thinking, or sparking a creative idea.

Celebrate successes: Just like winning a race you’ve been working hard for with a few of your peers, sharing team successes on a project that benefits the company is just as important. Foster this sense of connection and commitment between peers after facing a common challenge, working together to achieve success, and coming out on top. Sharing those stories and recounting how everyone overcame obstacles to achieve the desired result is a huge boost to morale.

In the end, it’s all about bringing positivity to the team and fostering an environment of open collaboration, says the Harvard Business Review.  As CIO, you can achieve that by:

  • Maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.
  • Supporting one another.
  • Avoiding blame and forgiving mistakes.
  • Inspiring each other’s work.
  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the team’s work.
  • Treating everyone with respect, gratitude, integrity and trust.

Remember: it doesn’t matter how smart, talented or driven you are, says Inc.com, your organization’s success ultimately rests with your ability to build, nurture and inspire a great team.

We’ve all been there: showed up to a meeting at work at the suggested time, only to be met with the blank stares of a few other employees waiting around a table with some stale doughnuts in the center. The boss shows up five minutes late in a tizzy with his coffee and a bunch of loose papers. He talks at you, you listen and don’t ad anything because you just want to get out of there, the meeting convenes and everyone goes on his or her way. Sound productive? Nope.

Effective Meetings

Sadly, though, this is an all-too-real example of how meetings go in the workplace. Mandatory meetings that no one wants to attend or participate in can be very draining not only on the employees but on the boss as well. Such meetings take away from real productivity, interrupting thought processes and causing a gap in the day that could otherwise be spent better solo. However, when meetings have real purpose and are handle effectively, the results can be positive, engaging and worthwhile.


So, as the leader or meeting organizer, how can you run a more effective meeting that everyone will show up to, ready to listen and participate? In general, it’s a good idea to prepare a standard agenda template to help people come prepared, stay on task, and document action items.

Establish Clear Objectives

Send out an email to participants 24 hours in advance. Don’t just list the time and location of the meeting; give it a specific and defined purpose with clear objectives that spell out exactly what you hope to accomplish, says Forbes. Vague meetings are not a good use of time. Encourage your team members to come prepared to discuss the issue. This puts control in their hands so they feel part of the solution.

Invite the Core Group

No one likes to be invited to a meeting, disrupting their busy day, if they’re not integral to the matter at hand. Invite only the people who have to be there, who can offer insight into the problem and come up with a solution. Don’t invite those who are not qualified to addressed the issue or who lack the skills to be of any real assistance. Relevancy is key here, or else you’re wasting people’s time.

Come up with a Schedule and Stick to It

If time allows, email a brief outline of the meeting to participants beforehand. During the meeting, use visual aids, such as the whiteboard, to illustrate your outline to keep people’s attention. Creating such an agenda will help you stay focused yourself to stay on track and cover what you want to within a certain timeline dedicated to each line item.

Follow Up with Action Items

Perhaps the one thing that makes meetings so ineffective is that afterwards, everyone goes their separate ways and forgets what they’re supposed to do. That’s why you should email a memo outlining what was discussed at the meeting, what solutions were formed, and who is responsible for following through on what tasks. Do this right away, or at least within 24 hours of the meeting so everyone is on the same page. Being clear in these action items will ensure the tasks discussed actually get done, and that everyone is responsible for a small part of the solution. 


In summary, here’s a quick takeaway of tips for running an effective meeting:

  • Show up five minutes early
  • Begin the meeting on time
  • Stay on topic
  • Follow a clear agenda
  • No comments on the side that are irrelevant to the topic
  • Don’t interrupt
  • Impose time limits on how long each person has the floor
  • Tell participants to leave their phones and tablets behind
  • Challenge ideas; not people
  • Encourage people to participate
  • End on time
  • Email agenda 24 hours ahead of time
  • Email results of meeting within 24 hours with action items