Effective Teams: 5 Ways to Develop the Most Successful Team
Think of a team as a group of people all working towards the same goal. You can't have team effectiveness if each team member isn't laser-focused on the common goal and helping one another get there.
October 2, 2018

Think of a team as a group of people all working towards the same goal. You can't have team effectiveness if each team member isn't laser-focused on the common goal and helping one another get there.

Some people wonder what the difference is between teams and work groups. In work groups, people share information and create policies and procedures that help each individual accomplish their own goals. In teams, members share responsibility for reaching the goal of the group as well as share information.

Fostering an effective team isn't always easy when dealing with varying work styles, opinions and attitudes. Today, we will review how team leaders can build great teams that set the stage for success.

1. Openness to New Ideas

Even if you have the most talented team with the most innovative ideas, if team members feel like one or two people dominate the group, they aren't likely to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.

Every person on the team, regardless of rank or seniority, needs to feel like their ideas and opinions are appreciated and meaningful. Effective teamwork and decision-making can only happen when the team works together as a unit in a partnership rather than a dictatorship.

Team leaders should intentionally work to create a team culture of inclusiveness as well as drawing the more shy or reluctant team members out so they feel safe to make valuable contributions.

2. Facilitate Communication Across the Team

The author of the book ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable’, Patrick Lecioni, said, 'If you can get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry at any time, in any market, against any competition, at any time.'

The only way to get everyone in the team rowing in the same direction – and keep it that way — is to create a highly collaborative environment where team members talk with one another frequently and communicate openly.

It's easy for a team leader to say they encourage good communication, but it can be a challenge to enforce and establish the right environment. The answer doesn't lie in having frequent, long, unproductive meetings.  

The smartest organisations create team effectiveness by creating a process and using tools that facilitate team collaboration and communication. Samewave is one such tool — a social performance management software that helps teams communicate without bogging down their schedules with long, pointless meetings.

Samewave allows team members to create team goals and tasks, communicate about their progress via multiple chat streams, generate automatic reports and even upload and store team documents. Best of all, Samewave is free. Sign up and download our software to enhance team building and create the most successful team.

3. Put the Right Team Leaders in Place

Being a team leader isn't a job for the faint of heart. They have to accommodate different work styles, attitudes and varying opinions. Some team members have direct personalities and are never afraid to voice their opinions while others are more reserved and quiet, but that doesn't mean their ideas aren't as valuable.

Successful teams are led by leaders that recognise these differences and put strategies in place to give each person equal time to share their ideas and brainstorm about them as a group. Great team leaders also know that conflict is inevitable when working in teams and have the conflict management skills to handle tense situations that make the team stronger in the long run.

The best team leaders are skilled at advocating for the team as a whole and for each individual team member and are focused on getting the group to the finish line by meeting their main objectives.

4. Create Team Values and Ground Rules

We know that it takes a strong, wise team leader to create a high-functioning team. So, what kinds of ground rules and values should guide the team on a daily basis?

The core values and rules of any team are the foundation they stand on, so they should be direct and firm. Good team rules and values include:

  • Starting and ending team meetings on time
  • Being accountable for the goals and tasks each team member commits themselves to
  • Assuming positive intent and speaking up if they feel there is an issue
  • Being a team player and focusing on team performance as a whole rather than as an individual
  • Focusing on problem-solving rather than blaming or pointing fingers

5. Create Team-Building Opportunities Outside of the Office

It's easy to get so focused on reaching the business goals of the team that you neglect the positive effects of team members building relationships outside of the work environment. People that like one another trust each other more and work better together.

Foster team development by giving teams the chance to interact outside of work on at least a monthly basis. If your team is located in the same city, schedule happy hours, recreational or sporting outings or group dinners.

If your team is remote and dispersed between many locations, aim to have an in-person meeting every quarter. You can also start team meetings with a quick 10-minute 'personal high', where each team member shares something exciting happening in their life before you get down to business. You'll be surprised how much rapport develops with that one simple change.

Develop the Most Effective Team

Whether you are developing a brand new team, have a team that is struggling with effectiveness or fine-tuning your team processes, these best practices will help foster effective teams for any organisation.

Successful teamwork is a dynamic process and it doesn't happen overnight. Try implementing one of these practices every week and you'll be encouraged to see your teams collaborating more, more engaged and reaching their goals faster than you expected.

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