Team-building in account management is often undervalued, depending on the amount of autonomy an account manager has in his or her daily tasks. In fact, it's easy for these people to become solely concentrated on serving their clients at the expense of their peers.
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The problem is that this leads to a loss of trust between colleagues, which can have wide-ranging consequences on the company. Sometimes it's necessary to rethink how you see the team.
Company leaders are accountable for creating — and participating in — a culture that encourages internal collaboration. It's the supervisors and superiors who set the tone, not the company retreats where people talk endlessly about feelings, or participate in "trust falls." These types of exercises and outings aren't necessarily a waste of time, but they're not going to change the underlying structure and values of a company if only a few people buy into the program.
If yours is the type of business that hires expensive consultants once a year to talk about the importance of working as a team, only to find that you see little change in overall productivity, you can bet that the reason is at least partially that the leadership hasn't adopted the principles either.
Sometimes it's helpful to think outside of your own capabilities. An MIT study looked at the nature of how teams interacted, and found that what mattered most were the patterns in the way workers communicated. In fact, interpersonal communication styles seemed to be more important than the personality, intelligence, and skill level of individual employees. It wasn't important what the teams talked about, so long as the tone was friendly and understanding.
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One manager found success by having his staff take a coffee break at the same time, while another focused on starting meetings by getting the discussion rolling with the discoveries that team members had made. Activities like these give power to the employees rather than letting things rest with supervisors only.
The power of the collaborator
Certain people in your organization will get along with everyone. Furthermore, they'll seem to intuitively know when to push an issue and when to let it rest. These individuals are masters at diplomacy and wield significant influence among their peers.
Let them know how valued their skills are and push them into taking on more of a collaborator role where they help team members work together. This can drive sales by fostering a team that relies on the collective strengths of the individuals, as opposed to celebrating only the achievements of top performers.
Every team is different
Tips for account management are meant to guide you, not give you a straightforward plan. That’s because you have a number of factors that make the interactions and relationships unique. You have to take the largest pressures of the day, and ensure that people understand how to use the team dynamics to cope with them.
Related: How to Manage a Successful Sales Team
For example, if one account manager plainly loathes working with another, it may help to do some type of mediation rather than turn a blind eye to the problem. Whatever you do, ask for input and listen to employees when it comes to building up your team.