Building a team is about more than finding a group of people with the right mix of professional skills. One of the greatest responsibilities of a leader is to push the team towards better performance. The relationships within the team are essential in that aspect. An effective team will outperform a disconnected collective, where people work individually.
Leaders who are not afraid to course correct, make difficult decisions and establish standards of performance that are constantly being met – and improving at all times. Whether in the workplace, professional sports, or your local community, team building requires a keen understanding of people, their strengths, and what gets them excited to work with others.
The first rule of team building is an obvious one: to lead a team effectively, you must first establish your leadership with each team member. Remember that the most effective team leaders build their relationships of trust and loyalty, rather than fear or the power of their positions.
A powerful and successful company operates best and with the most longevity when employees work with a team mentality, each filling a needed role and fulfilling long-term goals. Team building requires the management of egos and their constant demands for attention and recognition – not always warranted. Team building is both an art and a science you have to wield and understand as a leader
Here’s what you can do to make sure your team is as strong as it can be for your company.
1. Understand What a Great Team Is
Flawless teamwork doesn’t just occur out of the blue. It demands conscious efforts from all individuals within the team including the leader. A great team consists of a few elements that must be present at all times:
Clear objectives – each team member must be aware of the meaning of a particular activity as part of a larger objective. If, for example, you ask the team to engage in blogging for the sake of business promotion, they must understand how this blog will help the organization achieve higher objectives. If they don’t see the purpose of the task, they will fail and you’ll have to invest additional funds to outsource that task to a writing service.
Clear roles – everyone within the team must be aware of the hierarchy and their role in it.
Flawless communication – whenever someone has a question or gets an idea, they should be able to communicate it. The communication within the team must be as smooth as possible.
Cooperation – teamwork is not about individual achievements; it’s about what the group accomplishes together.
Individual development within the team – although it’s teamwork we’re talking about, the individual must not lose their authentic voice throughout the collaboration.
A great team is the one whose work is based on clear objectives, clear roles, clear communication, cooperation, and opportunities for personal development. Remember that recipe and you’ll be on the right way towards building an effective team.
2. Value each role.
With each team member bringing something special to the table, treating each role as an essential part of your operation is also crucial. Each team member should feel like their job matters, without ever asking themselves, “Why am I even here?” It’s no secret that a sense of purpose helps each employee’s performance.
When employees feel that their role is undervalued or perhaps unnecessary, it can become easy to check out mentally as work becomes mechanical and something they completely detach from as soon as the day is over.
Consider each employee’s ideas as valuable. Remember that there is no such thing as a stupid idea.
Be aware of employees’ unspoken feelings. Set an example to team members by being open with employees and sensitive to their moods and feelings.
Act as a harmonizing influence. Look for chances to mediate and resolve minor disputes; point continually toward the team’s higher goals.
Be clear when communicating. Be careful to clarify directives.
3. Communicate With the Team members.
The best way to demonstrate value between team members is through communication. It’s difficult to feel like you are part of a team when everybody has information that hasn’t been shared with you yet or when team members don’t fill each other in on what they’re working on. Keep a level of transparency whenever possible with all team members, even if the information doesn’t directly pertain to every person on your team.
Encourage listening and brainstorming. As a supervisor, your first priority in creating consensus is to stimulate debate. Remember that employees are often afraid to disagree with one another and that this fear can lead your team to make mediocre decisions. When you encourage debate you inspire creativity and that’s how you’ll spur your team on to better results.
Apps like Slack are making it easier to do this without having to think about it. An open line of communication helps your team members to share and create a more productive workflow. Having a weekly check-in or talking beyond discussions of to-do lists can bring great new ideas to the surface or will give someone a chance to help in an area they may not have known about otherwise.
4. Create Your Team’s Culture
All families have values, even if they aren’t discussed explicitly. There are certain behaviors that are encouraged and discouraged — like rules of the road — for how everyone is going to (try to) get along and spend their time.
Teams aren’t really that different. Pull together a group of people to work on any project, and they will develop a culture of their own, and it will be as unique as the people in the group.
As a leader, you can take a laissez-faire approach and hope the team meshes well over time. Or you can look for opportunities to set some shared guidelines for how people will work together.
There are no hard and fast rules for developing the cultural values of a team. In some cases, the founder of a company will issue them to employees. In others, top executives will turn the exercise over to employees to make it a bottom-up effort.
…And Stick to It
The most important thing is for the team or company to live by their stated values, rather than just going through the motions of the exercise, with people earning promotions even though their behavior runs directly counter to the stated rules of the road.
“I think it’s easy for people at many companies to become cynical, which then leads to politics, which can create cancer that can topple even the greatest companies,” said Kathy Savitt, managing director at Perch Partners, a consulting firm.
A couple of other traps to avoid:
Don’t make your lists too long. Most people can’t remember more than three things day-to-day, and the lists don’t need to somehow address all potential human behavior, good and bad. Just focus on the things that feel unique to the group or organization, and are good reminders to keep everyone aligned and moving forward.
Specific is better than vague. Many lists of values share similar words, like excellence and integrity, but those broad notions can create problems of their own, said Michel Feaster of Usermind, a customer-engagement software firm. “The problem with values like respect and courage is that everybody interprets them differently,” she said. “They’re too ambiguous and open to interpretation. Instead of uniting us, they can create friction.”
5. Invite Contributions And Collaborations!
Harnessing the power of your employees’ ideas can really help your company grow. You want to inspire the practices of contribution and collaboration for each and every member of the team.
You can create an environment like this only if you start contributing and collaborating yourself. The team members will follow your example. In addition to serving as a good example, you should encourage trust and cooperation among the employees, too. Pay close attention to the way the team works together and take specific steps to improve the level of trust and cooperation.
You may encourage them to share more information about the progress of their tasks. Ask for frequent reports and feedback so that you can evaluate the level of contribution and collaboration of each individual and within the group as a whole.
These simple things will provide a transparent workplace environment that allows everybody to see the bigger picture and feel more personally invested in the overall progress of the company.
6. Celebrate Team successes and failures.
Celebrating your successes and milestones also brings your team together and allows everyone to see that when they work together, great things can happen. If someone does a great job at something, give them a shout out in front of the rest of the team so that every effort is seen and appreciated. This also helps each person to feel visible and that what they’re doing has an impact. In contrast, if your team fails at something, come together to redirect your efforts or turn it into something positive. Don’t throw anyone under the bus or turn a damage-control discussion into a blame game. This never helps anybody. Instead, give your team equal responsibility to put your heads together and figure out the next steps or pivots.
7. Monitor And Review
Evaluation techniques are part of the process of developing a great team. You need to use obvious metrics, such as financial measures to evaluate the success of the team and each individual in it. When you set precise goals, you must measure the achievements at precise intervals of time.
some questions to ask yourself:
What has the team achieved so far?
What did they change?
What did they learn?
What’s working well?
What aspects of teamwork need improvement?
Monitor the work at all times and provide appropriate feedback to push your team towards greater effectiveness.
8. It’s About the Teams Accountability
A team is stronger when everybody delivers on their individual roles. Treating people with respect is part of a two-way street to help foster teamwork. At the same time, leaders also need to hold everyone on their team accountable for their work and role on the team. In effect, it’s a simple bargain that leaders can offer their employees: “I’ll treat you well, but we’re also going to be clear about the work you’re expected to contribute.”
At many companies, this culture of accountability is discussed explicitly. “I hold people accountable for everything that comes out of their mouth,” said Steve Stoute, chief executive of Translation LLC, an advertising and marketing firm. “Don’t say you’re going to do something and not do it, because, in a company of this size, everybody is directly responsible for the person next to them.”
8.1 Have conversations
Difficult discussions aren’t anyone’s idea of fun — but they are necessary for running a successful team.
A big part of holding people accountable for their work is a willingness to have frank discussions about problems and misunderstandings that inevitably arise among colleagues.
But the fact is that most managers go out of their way to avoid these “adult conversations.” It’s understandable. They can be unpleasant, and most people would rather deliver good news instead of bad. Also, you never quite know how somebody’s going to react to feedback. That is why problems are often swept under the rug, and maybe dealt with months later in an annual performance review.
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