‘None of Us is as Smart as All of Us’
So said Ken Blanchard, author of the best-selling One Minute Manager.
Certainly, one of the most challenging tasks of a leader is to build a strong and effective team. It’s because you are dealing with human beings, and getting a group that works together in harmony takes hard work.
But it’s a task that is critical to an organisation’s success. Everything from productivity to morale, to the bottom line, are all hit when a team isn’t nurtured and developed.
What are the characteristics of an effective team?
An effective team will perform consistently, execute projects smoothly and achieve both their individual and team objectives. And when mistakes happen, a good team will take responsibility and learn from those mistakes. Put in the effort to create a team like this and your job as leader becomes so much easier!
There are certain traits that all successful teams have:
- Trust – all team members must be committed to the objectives and trust both their leader and their peers.
- Communication – should be honest and flow between all team members. All members must feel free to express their views.
- Capabilities – no one person can be great at everything, an effective team has a range of skills that complement the other team members so that together, all bases are covered.
- Adaptability – high performing teams are flexible and can adapt to changed conditions or priorities.
It sounds straightforward, but how do you go about building the trust and loyalty of each member of the team, and getting them to work together effectively?
Here are our thoughts on creating an effective team:-
Agree the team’s values and goals
Be open in discussion about what needs to be achieved as a team and how individuals can help to make that happen. Talk to each person about their progress and be sure everyone knows what the bigger goal is and how they contribute to it.
Value everyone’s input
Foster an environment where every team member can put forward thoughts or ideas without ridicule or being dismissed.
Encourage the sharing of information
Emphasise the importance of everyone’s contribution, and make sure your team understands how the sharing of information and expertise moves the entire team closer to its objective.
Develop trust and cooperation
Relationships between your team members are just as key as their relationship with you as the leader. Pay close attention to how members work together and take action to improve communication, cooperation and respect in those relationships.
Whilst a longer process, using consensus to set objectives and resolve problems, results in better decisions and greater productivity because it gets every employee’s commitment to all stages of the work.
Possibly the most important thing you can do. Set an example to your team by always being open to input and concerns. Ask questions and offer support, and ensure that you have been careful to clarify directives to prevent any confusion.
Encourage listening and brainstorming
As part of communication, you should stimulate debate. Create a culture where it’s OK to disagree. Debate drives creativity and finds innovative solutions to setbacks.
Be a calming influence
Always be ready to mediate and resolve minor disputes; that way you keep the team focused toward their higher goals.
Finally – take a look at yourself
Are you open to ideas? Do you actively listen? Treat people with respect? Lead by example, and the chances are your team will pick up on your good habits.