10 Ways to Cultivate an Action-Oriented Team

Teams need to be action-oriented. An action-oriented team doesn’t just react to change, they proactively chase it, seeking new opportunities, and driving progress. They display a strong bias for action, moving from planning to execution swiftly and efficiently.

So, what is an action-oriented team? 

At its core, it is a group that prioritizes doing over deliberating. These teams understand the importance of moving quickly, making decisions based on the best available data, and continuously iterating on their actions. They are not paralyzed by perfectionism, fear of failure, or over-analysis.

Action-oriented teams are often the driving force behind successful project launches, company turnarounds, and innovative breakthroughs. 

Consider leaders like Steve Jobs, who was known for pushing Apple’s teams to their limits in the pursuit of groundbreaking products, or Elon Musk, whose vision and push for action have transformed industries ranging from electric cars to space exploration. They understood that in the race to be first, or best, an action-oriented approach can be a competitive edge.

With this in mind, let’s delve into the 10 steps that can help managers foster such a dynamic within their teams.

1: Set Clear and Achievable Goals

At the heart of every action-oriented team lies clarity in their objectives. It is essential to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. This provides direction and purpose, ensuring that everyone understands what is expected and what they are working towards.

In a Filipino workplace, where a sense of “pakikisama” (community and unity) is deeply valued, aligning everyone toward a shared goal can boost motivation and drive collective action.

Imagine a software company in Manila struggling with its new project. The team seemed to be working hard, but there was no sense of direction. Tasks were completed, but they didn’t always align with the project’s ultimate objectives.

The manager noticed the issue and realized that while they had set a broad goal (“Develop a user-friendly application”), they hadn’t set clear benchmarks or defined what “user-friendly” meant.

Acting on this, the manager convened the team and collaborated on setting SMART goals. They decided on specific metrics for user-friendliness, such as loading time, ease of navigation, and user feedback. They also set deadlines for each development phase.

In a few weeks, the change was evident. The team was more synchronized, and they could easily measure their progress against the set benchmarks. Instead of merely completing tasks, they were now striving to achieve well-defined goals, making their actions more meaningful and purpose-driven.

Sidebar Quick Tips:

  • Brainstorm Together: Get your team involved in goal-setting. Collective input can provide valuable insights and boost ownership.
  • Use the SMART framework: Ensure every goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
  • Review Regularly: Keep track of your team’s progress. Celebrate milestones and recalibrate if necessary.
  • Incorporate Local Values: Understand the cultural nuances of the Filipino workplace. Use them to frame goals in a way that resonates with the team’s intrinsic values.

2: Foster Open Communication

Clear, open, and transparent communication is the backbone of any successful team. It allows for the easy flow of ideas, feedback, and updates, ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

The Filipino workplace culture, deeply rooted in “kapwa” (shared identity), emphasizes the importance of relationships and mutual respect. Creating an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns, and feedback is paramount.

Consider a marketing agency in Cebu. The team was working on a big campaign but was running into constant revisions and misalignment in deliverables. Team members were hesitant to speak up about challenges or unclear instructions, partly due to the hierarchical nature of Filipino society where younger or junior members might be reluctant to voice out concerns to superiors.

Seeing the recurring issues, the manager introduced regular feedback sessions, ensuring that they were framed as collaborative discussions. The manager also emphasized that every team member’s opinion was valuable, regardless of rank. Anonymized feedback channels were also introduced to allow more introverted members to voice their concerns without fear of judgment.

The results were immediate. The team began collaborating more efficiently, misunderstandings reduced significantly, and the overall quality of work improved.

Sidebar Quick Tips:

  • Encourage Feedback: Regularly ask team members for their thoughts and insights. Make sure they know their voices are heard and valued.
  • Break Hierarchical Barriers: Ensure that even the youngest or most junior members feel empowered to share their perspectives.
  • Utilize Multiple Channels: Some members may be more comfortable providing feedback in writing, while others prefer face-to-face discussions. Cater to all preferences.
  • Promote Kapwa: Use the concept of shared identity to underline the importance of every member in the team’s collective success.

3: Provide Adequate Training and Resources

Empowering a team means ensuring they have the right tools, training, and resources to execute their tasks effectively. An action-oriented team thrives when they are equipped with the necessary skills and tools to translate ideas into actions.

In the Filipino context, the value of “bayanihan” (community collaboration) is embedded deeply in the culture. It emphasizes the idea that collective efforts lead to success. However, for the community to come together and achieve results, every individual needs to be equipped with the right skills.

Take, for instance, a BPO company in Davao. As they onboarded new clients, the nature of customer queries became more complex. The team often found themselves ill-equipped to handle these, leading to delays and customer dissatisfaction.

The operations manager recognized this gap. Instead of reprimanding the team, they organized intensive training sessions, bringing in experts to upskill the team. Additionally, they invested in upgrading their CRM software to help the team manage customer interactions more efficiently.

The outcome? Not only did the team handle customer queries more effectively, but they also felt more confident and valued. Their action-oriented approach was complemented by the resources and training, leading to happier customers and improved team morale.

Sidebar Quick Tips:

  • Identify Skill Gaps: Regularly assess the team to determine areas where training might be beneficial.
  • Invest in Tools: Equip your team with up-to-date software and tools that can make their tasks more manageable and efficient.
  • Encourage Continuous Learning: Promote a culture where team members are always seeking to learn and improve.
  • Leverage ‘Bayanihan’: Emphasize the collective effort and ensure every team member feels equipped to contribute their best.

4: Recognize and Reward Proactivity

Acknowledging proactive behavior not only reinforces positive actions but also inspires other team members to adopt a proactive approach. An essential aspect of nurturing an action-oriented team is creating an environment where effort and initiative are celebrated.

Within the Filipino workplace, the concept of “pamana” (legacy) holds a significant place. People wish to leave behind a legacy of good work and positive contributions. Recognizing and rewarding proactive efforts not only gratifies an individual’s current contributions but also positions them to create a lasting impact.

For instance, consider a retail chain in Iloilo. Sales had been stagnant, and the energy in the stores was noticeably low. A few employees, however, took the initiative to gather feedback directly from customers, suggesting changes in the store layout and promotional events to attract more footfall.

The management, seeing the initiative, decided not only to implement the suggestions but also to publicly recognize these employees in a company-wide meeting. They even introduced an “Innovator of the Month” award. The results? A noticeable uptick in sales and a surge in proactive initiatives from other employees, hoping to make a difference and perhaps win the award.

Sidebar Quick Tips:

  • Public Acknowledgment: Celebrate achievements in team meetings to set examples and inspire others.
  • Tangible Rewards: Consider bonuses, gift cards, or additional days off as incentives for proactive efforts.
  • Create Regular Opportunities for Recognition: Monthly or quarterly awards can keep the momentum of proactive behavior.
  • Connect to ‘Pamana’: Remind team members that their proactive efforts not only benefit the present but leave a lasting legacy.

5: Promote Collaborative Problem-Solving

In an action-oriented team, problems aren’t seen as roadblocks, but as opportunities to innovate and grow. Encouraging a culture where team members come together to brainstorm and find solutions fosters unity and a proactive approach.

Filipino culture is marked by a communal spirit, often referred to as “pakikipagkapwa” (relating to others). This cultural trait means that Filipinos often work best when they feel a sense of community and shared purpose in addressing challenges.

Let’s illustrate with a scenario from a tourism agency in Palawan. The company was facing a downturn due to unexpected environmental restrictions, leading to fewer tours. Instead of resorting to cost-cutting or layoffs, the management organized collaborative brainstorming sessions across all levels of employees.

Junior guides, boat operators, and even clerks shared the table with managers and directors. These sessions resulted in a pivot toward eco-friendly and sustainable tourism packages, which not only adhered to the new environmental guidelines but also attracted a new segment of eco-conscious travelers.

The success lay in harnessing the collective knowledge and insights of everyone, irrespective of their designation. The sense of communal problem-solving led to innovative solutions that might have been overlooked in a top-down decision-making approach.

Sidebar Quick Tips:

  • Inclusive Brainstorming: Ensure representatives from all levels of the team are included in problem-solving sessions.
  • Empower Voices: Create an environment where everyone feels their insights are valuable and will be considered.
  • Facilitate Group Discussions: Use tools and techniques like mind-mapping or SWOT analysis to guide collaborative sessions.
  • Celebrate ‘Pakikipagkapwa’: Encourage the spirit of communal effort and collective problem-solving inherent in Filipino culture.

6: Encourage Autonomy and Trust

Empowering team members to take ownership of their tasks and responsibilities is crucial for cultivating an action-oriented mindset. When individuals feel trusted to make decisions and manage their work, they are more likely to be proactive and committed.

In the Filipino context, the value of “tiwala” (trust) plays a pivotal role in relationships, both personal and professional. Demonstrating trust in your team members can foster loyalty, dedication, and a stronger sense of commitment to the organization’s goals.

Imagine a publishing house in Quezon City. The editorial team was often bogged down with approvals, which led to delays in publishing. Writers and editors felt stifled, believing their expertise was undervalued.

The editorial head, seeing the mounting frustration, decided to change the process. Writers and editors were given more autonomy over their pieces, with a peer review system in place for checks. Only the final drafts required managerial approval.

With this newfound trust and freedom, the team not only produced content more efficiently but also showcased creativity that was previously untapped. The quality of publications improved, and the team felt a heightened sense of ownership and pride in their work.

Sidebar Quick Tips:

  • Delegate Decision-Making: Let team members make decisions pertaining to their domain of expertise.
  • Establish Clear Boundaries: While providing autonomy, ensure that the team understands the limits and the responsibilities that come with it.
  • Regular Check-ins: Instead of micromanaging, opt for regular updates to stay informed while giving team members the space they need.
  • Champion ‘Tiwala’: Continuously demonstrate trust in your team’s capabilities and expertise, reinforcing the value of trust in the workplace.

7: Cultivate a Learning Environment

A team that is constantly learning and updating its skill set is more adaptable and better positioned to take action in changing scenarios. Encouraging a culture of continuous learning keeps the team invigorated and open to new ideas and approaches.

In the Philippines, the value of “pag-aaral” (learning or study) is deeply respected. Historically, Filipinos regard education and continuous learning as a path to upward mobility and personal growth.

Reflect on a manufacturing unit in Batangas. With the introduction of new technologies and automated systems, many workers feared their roles would become redundant. Instead of resisting the change, the management took a proactive approach.

They partnered with technical institutes to organize workshops and training sessions for their workers. The goal was to equip them with the skills required to operate and supervise the new automated systems. Workers transitioned from manual roles to more supervisory and technical ones.

This initiative not only ensured that the company stayed competitive but also showcased a genuine concern for the workforce’s growth and adaptability. The employees, in turn, became more action-oriented, embracing changes with a mindset of learning and evolution.

Sidebar Quick Tips:

  • Organize Workshops: Regularly schedule training sessions to keep the team updated with industry trends and skills.
  • Promote External Learning: Encourage team members to attend seminars, online courses, and conferences.
  • Encourage Skill Sharing: Create a platform where team members can teach and learn from each other.
  • Value ‘Pag-aaral’: Highlight the importance of continuous learning, emphasizing its significance in Filipino culture and its benefits to individual growth.

8: Foster a Feedback-Rich Culture

In action-oriented teams, feedback isn’t seen as criticism but as a tool for growth. Constructive feedback, both positive and negative, helps team members understand their strengths and areas of improvement. When feedback becomes a regular part of the workflow, it prepares the team to quickly adapt and refine their strategies.

In Filipino culture, direct criticism is often avoided in favor of “pakikiramdam” (sensitivity to others’ feelings). Hence, it’s essential to ensure feedback is delivered in a constructive and empathetic manner, ensuring the receiver feels valued and understood.

Consider a marketing agency in Cebu. Over time, projects began lagging, and clients started expressing mild dissatisfaction. Instead of placing blame, the team lead introduced a bi-weekly feedback session. In these sessions, every member presented their work, and peers offered insights, praises, and suggestions for improvement.

The approach was not about finding faults but about collective growth. These feedback-rich sessions became learning opportunities, where team members shared their expertise and offered collaborative solutions to challenges.

Within months, the quality of deliverables improved, clients expressed higher satisfaction, and the team, equipped with regular feedback, became more agile in their response to challenges.

Sidebar Quick Tips:

  • Constructive Approach: Frame feedback as suggestions for improvement rather than pointing out faults.
  • Two-Way Street: Encourage team members to provide feedback to peers and superiors, ensuring everyone benefits.
  • Embrace ‘Pakikiramdam’: Deliver feedback with empathy and sensitivity, understanding the cultural importance of preserving harmony and respect.
  • Regular Feedback Sessions: Instead of waiting for annual reviews, incorporate feedback as a regular part of team meetings or dedicated sessions.

9. Foster a Sense of Urgency

For a team to be truly action-oriented, there needs to be a sense of urgency in their activities. This doesn’t mean always being in a frantic rush but understanding the significance of timely action and prioritizing tasks that have the most impact. This urgency is often the driving force behind proactiveness and initiative.

In the Filipino setting, there’s a term called “Filipino Time,” which sometimes denotes a relaxed attitude towards punctuality. To counteract this and instill a sense of urgency, it’s crucial to emphasize the value of time and its impact on outcomes.

Take a logistics company in Makati, for example. Deliveries were often delayed, affecting client satisfaction and company reputation. The reason wasn’t the lack of effort, but rather a relaxed attitude towards timelines.

The CEO, recognizing the issue, initiated a campaign called “On Time, Every Time.” Employees were educated about the cascading effects of delays, not just on company reputation but on the entire supply chain. Incentives were introduced for teams that consistently met or exceeded their delivery times. Additionally, visual dashboards were installed to track and showcase real-time performance, creating a sense of healthy competition.

The result was a significant improvement in delivery times. The team, understanding the broader implications of their actions, became more proactive and operated with a renewed sense of urgency.

Sidebar Quick Tips:

  • Educate on Implications: Ensure the team understands the broader impact of delays and the value of timely action.
  • Visual Tracking: Use dashboards or tracking tools to provide real-time updates, fostering a competitive spirit.
  • Rewards for Promptness: Introduce incentives or recognitions for those who consistently act with urgency.
  • Address ‘Filipino Time’ Tactfully: Respect cultural nuances, but emphasize the professional importance of punctuality and timely action.

10: Celebrate Small and Big Wins

Recognizing and celebrating achievements, whether they’re major milestones or smaller accomplishments, fosters motivation and renews commitment. Celebrations create a positive work environment, emphasizing that every step forward, no matter its size, brings the team closer to its goals.

In the Filipino culture, festivities and celebrations hold a special place. The concept of “fiesta” is deeply ingrained, symbolizing unity, joy, and gratitude. Leveraging this cultural affinity for celebrations in the workplace can significantly boost morale and enthusiasm.

Imagine a call center in Davao. The work can be repetitive, with agents aiming to meet daily or weekly targets. To break the monotony and keep spirits high, the management introduced a “Win of the Week” program. Every Friday, a team or an individual was recognized for an exceptional achievement, even if it was just handling a difficult client with grace or coming up with a time-saving process tweak.

Monthly, a bigger celebration was organized for teams that exceeded their targets or displayed exceptional teamwork. These events included dinners, cultural performances, or team outings.

Such regular recognition and celebrations not only motivated the employees to give their best but also strengthened team bonds. The atmosphere transformed from one of mere task-completion to one where every achievement, small or large, was a reason for collective cheer.

Sidebar Quick Tips:

  • Regular Recognitions: Don’t wait for massive milestones. Recognize and celebrate achievements regularly, even if they’re minor.
  • Incorporate Cultural Elements: Use local festivities, music, or food to make celebrations resonate more deeply with the team.
  • Peer Recognitions: Allow team members to nominate their peers for recognitions, fostering a sense of unity and mutual appreciation.
  • Value Every Win: Ensure that every member feels that their contributions, no matter how small, are valued and celebrated.

Cultivate an Action-Oriented Team

Building an action-oriented team requires a combination of clarity, trust, continuous learning, and acknowledgment. The journey to cultivating such a team is ongoing, but with these steps, managers can set a strong foundation. 

Remember, in the Filipino workplace, incorporating local values and cultural nuances can be the key to truly resonating with your team and motivating them toward consistent action.

We invite you to share your thoughts and experiences on these steps. If you find value in this, forward it to your bosses and colleagues. 

And if you’d like to dive deeper and bring these principles to life in your organization, consider bringing our workshops to your company. 

Our expert facilitators are well-versed in creating dynamic, culturally-sensitive programs that can help transform your team’s mindset and drive.

Maraming Salamat (Thank you very much) for joining us on this journey to cultivate action-oriented teams. Together, let’s build workplaces that not only achieve but also inspire.

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