How to Sharpen the Saw at Work

Sharpen the Team

Everyone has heard of New Year’s resolutions for personal growth. What about New Year’s resolutions for professional team growth? The end of 2016 is rapidly approaching, make sure to refresh and recharge the team at work in order to reach the most potential for the upcoming year.

Sharpen the Saw – Stephen Covey

Most modern professionals have heard of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. The seventh habit is “Sharpen the Saw”. This habit, sharpen the saw, states that the individual must practice self-renewal in the following four areas of life:

  1. Physical
  2. Social/Emotional
  3. Mental
  4. Spiritual

There are common sense ways to nurture each of these areas to “sharpen the saw” such as exercising (physical), engaging with friends (social/emotional), furthering your education (mental) and taking time to enjoy nature and/or meditate (spiritual). By taking care of all three areas of life the individual is well-rounded and can be highly effective as a result.

The same kind of self-renewal can be applied to business teams. Just think of the four areas of life in regard to a team as a whole. A team, after all, is comprised of individuals and individuals thrive when they “sharpen the saw”, so why wouldn’t a team?

Ways to Sharpen the Team

According to the CDC, people with well-being are more effective at work. Use this fact when thinking of a team of individuals. Just because the individual is not the focus, doesn’t mean these four areas can not be addressed for the team as a whole.

Below are ways to “sharpen your team” this coming year by addressing the four aspects of life we as humans need to care for in order to reach our potential.


Try standing up during a meeting for a quick stretch to clear the mind and wake up the muscles.  Encouraging healthy lifestyles by sanctioning exercise goals/fun contests such as daily step goals or providing healthy snacks at meetings. Don’t overwork your team by dragging out meetings or setting extreme deadlines forcing the team to work overtime. Consider the physical health of the team member in order to have the most creative ideas and enthusiastic participation.


Encourage one another to interact socially. Get to know each other a little, by starting a meeting with a fun fact about one of the team members. Try ordering in for lunch and taking the time to eat and socialize before the meeting gets underway. Sometimes just knowing someone is the best way to truly “work together”. By fostering a social/emotional attachment to one another, team members can grasp a full understanding behind someone’s input. Knowing another on a personal level allows a deeper understanding and perspective when considering an idea totally different from your own.  


Provide ways for the team to increase their knowledge or learn a new skill. For example, don’t settle for the same old way to create a repository for the data, participate in free lunch and learns for tools or software the office already uses. These tools are constantly being updated and improved, so make sure the team is using them to the fullest. Particular team members can also be challenged to learn a better way of accomplishing a task and then teach the rest of the team what was learned.


Previous blogs have stressed the importance of taking time out and resetting in order to be more productive. Implement these tactics for the team by conducting team building activities off site, such as a strategic planning retreat. Participate in a outside ropes course to enjoy nature and learn the art of working together. No matter what technique is used to further the team’s spiritual health, make sure each team member is heard, valued and respected.

Don’t rely on the same old methods used in the past. Pay attention to the four areas of life and watch the team reach it’s fullest potential. By following Stephen Covey’s “sharpen the saw” methodology, your team can be healthy and well-balanced to conquer all challenges in the upcoming year.

Sharpen the Team with Larry Lipman

Fun Team Building with Larry Lipman can help “sharpen the team”. Address the physical, social/emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of your team through a fun interactive agenda customized for your organization. Call Larry today at 770-333-3303 for your free 15-minute consultation.

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