There have been various studies that state that if you write your goals down on paper, you have a better likelihood of achieving them. Some even go further and suggest that if you have a picture of some sort (photo, painting, etc.) that you have an even greater chance of reaching your goals. If that is the case, what is the picture in your mind that you have of a productive and engaging team? Is everyone working independently but still fulfilling their duties, or is it more of a collaborative environment?
Whichever you choose to see, start gathering pictures of it. It may seem like a silly exercise but as you really look at different scenarios of team members interacting, you will start to have a better understanding of the dynamics within your own team that you may not have realized before. Maybe some team members avoid each other due to different personalities but appear to be working well together. Others may feel intimidated by some team members so never question what they are asked to do by them. Lastly there are some that may appear to be working hard but are the type that waste time and in turn do the same to others.
After you have reviewed all of this, create in your mind (or if you are artistic draw it) what you ideally want your team to look like. Take into consideration even the way the work spaces are set up. Is each person’s area messy or full of stuff i.e. marketing materials, files, etc.? Does everyone have personal items displayed or do some have a lot and others have nothing?
Then think about how the team members interact with each other. Do some wear headphones so it is a challenge for others to get their attention? Do others prefer to email even though they are two cubicles away? How do you communicate with your team and do you communicate differently depending on which team member it is?
When there is a team meeting, do you notice that certain people always sit together? Is there a way to change that up, or possibly have team building exercises that allow others to be together? If there is a new person how does the team embrace him or her, or is one person the “greeter” and always makes sure that new people feel welcome?
As always understanding the different facets of a person takes time. That is why visualization can be such a helpful tool. It can make us see things that are right in front of us that we did not notice before and realize there may be a need to “change things up” within the team resulting in a more fulfilling work environment for all.