How to Build Effective Teams
The reason that we wind up cooperating with others as part of a team at work, the reason Paleolithic cave dwellers hunted as a team, and the reason people rowing in a scull move as one entity is that we are better together. Join forces. When we work toward a common goal, when we think and move and focus as one powerful body, we increase exponentially what we are able to accomplish. Being part of a team allows us to do more. For a team to be successful, every member on the team has to truly believe that by working together, we are able to achieve more. Not everyone believes this, especially highly talented individuals who are accustomed to working alone. It falls to the leader to instill in the group the vision that working collaboratively is more effective and more powerful than working alone. One of the questions leaders can ask is “What builds teamwork in the workplace?” Answers range from being part of a goal that is larger than ourselves, work more effectively, learn new skills, get to know new people, get to learn from different people outside of our specific workplace, and the ability to see a project to fruition. We then asked employees, “What destroys teamwork in the workplace?” Not surprisingly, the list was much longer and the answers were more rapid. Teamwork killers included gossip, people who acted out of self-interest, people who are mean, laziness, unwillingness to help others, rumors, bad communication, no communication, wrong information, absent leadership, no guidance, lack of vision, other people stealing our ideas and taking credit for them, leaders who don’t care, people missing deadlines, and the failure of others to do what they say they are going to do. There was more, but you get the idea. In high functioning teams, people: 1. Do what they say they are going to do. 2. Have leaders with defined responsibilities at all levels of the project. 3. Use the strengths of everyone on the team. 4. Use people’s differentiation and varying perspectives to see all angles. 5. Stay focused on the end result. 6. Plan for delays and contingencies. 7. Address problems as they occur instead of ignoring them. 8. Fix the problem, not the blame. 9. Understand that conflict can be helpful to team dynamics and can stimulate creativity when addressed properly. 10. Are aware of what other people are working on and are accountable when their actions have consequences on others. Great leaders know that great teams take effort, energy, and attention to develop and build, and that it is worth every second.