Make Team Hygiene A Habit

Teams of distinction dedicate time for hygiene. Hygiene literally means practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease. This applies to teams just as it does to people.

Without regular time set aside for the team to work through issues, the team gets toxic. The issues and problems build up. The team energy turns negative. And the team gets derailed. Teams must schedule in time regularly to hash out the differences, and plan for success. Here are my recommendation for good team hygiene and staying in top team shape:

Daily:  Appreciate.  People are great at finding problems but its harder to appreciate the small positive things.  Say, “Thank you” “Nice Job” ” Awesome effort” to each other.   Research shows that teams of distinction have about 6 times more positive interactions than negative.  You don’t need big parties and awards of appreciation. It’s the small positives that keep the team healthy and productive.

Weekly:  Relate.  Teams are ultimately connections of people.  To excel, teams need to feel connected.  Make time every week to connect on something personal – even if for 2 minutes.  Minimum, the team leader needs to have at least a conversation a week with each team member that includes something personal (life, family, kids, vacation, etc).

Monthly:  Align: Leadership teams need to meet at least once a month as a full team for at least 2 hours to address organizational topics. When these meetings get pushed aside, the team and organizational unit suffer.

Quarterly:  Build the team.  Teams up to great things take time to think about how to be greater.  It is a myth that team events and team building are for dysfunctional teams.  The better the team, the stronger the drive to get better, and the better use of time a day or 2 away is to improving results.

Yearly:  Improve.  Meet once a year with someone the outside of your team ( HR, another leader in the company or an outside team expert ) to enable fresh thinking and learning into how to be a team of distinction. Assess your team functioning, look at your work and processes from a new angle.  Strive to Improve by an order of magnitude.

You take showers and brush your teeth, don’t you? Put the same amount of effort into your team’s hygiene every day week and month, and watch your team soar.

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Lawrence Polsky
Lawrence Polsky is co-founder of Teams of Distinction, a world-renowned firm focused on creating and enhancing organizational cultures, and building teams that collaborate with near perfect synchronicity. He spent 20 years in OD & Learning, teaching thousands of professionals worldwide. His lifelong education in human behavior began at the age of 9 at the kitchen table. With a Master’s in Organization Development, and post-graduate work focusing on the impact of emotions on communication, problem-solving and relationships, Lawrence prides himself on bringing his kitchen table wisdom to boardroom roundtables. He has helped leaders improve results at technical and scientific companies such as Facebook, Pfizer, Dell, Intuit, Bayer, and NASA. You can reach him at or (609)333-0653.
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