A strong team, supported by healthy relationships and a shared vision can accomplish significantly more than employees left alone to figure it out by themselves. But teams are not always naturally cohesive, especially in today’s diverse workplaces. To build a team requires a level of role clarity and an appreciation by everyone of how the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts. There also needs to be a level of trust, openness and shared accountability to really leverage the individual and collective potential.
- Focus on strengths
Even though some of your team members may be performing the same role, recognize that each of them will bring their own strengths and preferences to play. Rather than identifying and trying to improve areas of weakness, take a strengths-based approach. Share with the team how each of their individual strengths contribute to the overall success. Research shows that identifying and promoting the strengths of each team member, can increase productivity by as much as 12.5 percent.
- Make communication accessible
Recent New Zealand research shows that around 65% of team members work in geographically dispersed teams. Ensuring that you have the right tools in place for effective communication is therefore vital. Face to face is not always possible. Rather, give your team access to the digital tools they enjoy using. Being able to exchange ideas and share information in real-time, promotes frequent and open discussion. It also ensures that even the introverts and those working remotely have a voice.
- Opportunities for growth
While teams are important, don’t forget that people like to be recognized for their unique contributions. It’s about creating a ‘one size fits one experience for your employees’, while working in a team. Your team members have individual aspirations regarding their development and learning goals. Take the time to understand what these are and feed back to them on how they are tracking. Remember, what’s important to employees, goes way beyond a paycheck and benefits. Constructive feedback which allows your employees to learn, adjust and grow is probably the most valuable contribution that you as a manager can make.
- Step Back
Provide your team with the specifics about what their goals are, and how success will be measured. Then step back and let them get on with their job. Micromanaging weakens teams. Teams become cohesive and strong when they understand the goals and are trusted to get the job done.
- Acknowledge Success
Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. We also want to be part of a team that keeps winning. And one of the best ways to keep your momentum going is to celebrate your accomplishments. Give credit early and often and use the opportunity to reflect on what led to the success. This allows the whole team to learn and use what they’ve learnt in future projects.
Building high performing teams is an ongoing process – but one that is worth doing. The business benefits of operating in a high performing team are well understood – and the techniques for building one proven.