How to Encourage Employees to Own Their Individuality - Glassdoor for Employers
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How to Encourage Your Employees to Own Their Individual Value in a Teamwork Environment

In today's workplace culture of teamwork where interdependence is necessary to gut through the various and intricate daily challenges, it can be possible to lose one's individual identity. While social media has enabled the explosion of self-promotion and selfie-experiences, corporate offices do not always offer the same platform for individualism.

While employees have some responsibility to own their individual value in a teamwork environment, it is also helpful when leadership proactively shines a light on individual achievement and career visibility.

Following are four types of challenges employees face in regard to anonymity within a team environment and ways to overcome those challenges, applying best practices.

Challenge 1

An employee’s role is embedded in a matrix environment of interdependence. Every goal relies upon a dozen or more cross-organizational contributors. No particular ownership accountability is placed on one person.

In this close-knit community of workers, it becomes blurred where one person’s role stops and another one starts.

However, quietly, almost stealthily behind the scenes, there often lurks a couple or several individuals behaving in orchestral roles to ensure the project train stays on the tracks. At the end of the project, however, the group, as a collective whole, is commended for the outcome, with little attention drawn to any individual.

Best Practice to Overcome the Challenge: Pay attention to and single out the productivity players and natural leaders whose energy extends their value beyond expectations. Whether done publicly or privately, articulate to the orchestrators that their individual contributions mattered – maybe even were the linchpins ensuring project success.

Evaluate current recognition systems and formally create an opportunity for individuals to achieve commendations for their specific functional accomplishments within the larger initiative.

This can include how their role impacts other individuals’ roles as well as the overarching impact on the company as a whole. In addition to encouraging teamwork synchronicity, which is important, being sensitive to individual contributors and their value boosts morale and, ultimately, impacts productivity.

[Related: 7 Signs You Aren’t Listening to Your Employees]

Challenge 2

In many instances, the same team leaders occupy the helm of most projects and consequently, assume the role of thought leader and idea creator. While many individuals prefer to be team player versus piloting the ship, it doesn’t mean those individual teammates prefer to always blend in. Instead, they too crave to be seen and their insights recognized.

Best Practice to Overcome the Challenge: Create a platform for the individual contributors to share their insights privately, one-on-one with their leadership, and then implement their ideas, as practical. Individuals who witness their ideas converted into action are empowered. Moreover, crediting the individual for specific outcomes of their actionable ideas; e.g., process transformation or profit improvement, reinforces their individual value.

[Related: The Bottom-Line Importance of Developing Your Employees]

Challenge 3

When a powerhouse contributor is parachuted into a team of heavily bonded colleagues, they may find themselves in an outlier role, which can be demotivating. The closely connected colleagues may not easily welcome this new and different colleague’s energy and initiative.

Best Practice to Overcome the Challenge: Leadership can step in and not only facilitate assimilation between the already forged group and the new contributor but also to galvanize the individual. This can include tapping into the powerhouse new-hire’s outside perspective and best practices for higher productivity, promoting them into a training or other mentoring role in the company.

Challenge 4

A creative’s genius is regularly thwarted by a less-than-creative team environment.

Best Practice to Overcome This Challenge: Consider special projects and promotional opportunities to elevate an individual’s uniqueness. Whether the opportunity to lift their morale through these special opportunities or advancements is temporary or permanent, the point is to do something to play to an individual’s desire to achieve personal success.

[Related: How to Ensure Superstar Employees Don’t Get Bored and Resign]

Many individuals are adept at performing at high levels of productivity amid the anonymity of a team. However, humans are wired to think independently and desire a certain amount of individual affirmation and recognition for their specific work outside of the team. Enabling employees to own their individual value in a teamwork environment is not only empowering for the individual but energizing for the company as a whole.