Groups and teams have become an essential component of an organization’s success in today’s economy. Being able to work in a group is a key skill for managers and employees alike.
The definition of a team is: “a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and an approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.” (Katzenbach, 1993)
Turning a group of people with different backgrounds into a team is one of the biggest challenges workplaces face. Often we find ourselves part of groups of individuals with diverse backgrounds and points of view working on complex projects. We don’t always get to pick the team we are in; we often have to accept teams and all of its differences. And while some thrive on teamwork, others find themselves suffocated by the different personalities in a team.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing.” Effective teams maximize and flourish on the strengths and diversity of its members. (Maeliea, 2005)
I work as part of a team and know how important it is to have a positive team environment where everyone respects and treats each other with dignity. Our performance is measured individually however all 14 of us understand how important it is to have each other’s back. After a while of working in a team, you get really close to people and feel like you are part of a family. Relationships in a team are not always perfect and workplaces have to learn on how to build strong teams.
But how would you build an effective team? I would like to focus this blog post on the key factors that determine an effective team. After an extensive research, I have determined 8 key factors that would help build a strong team.
- Respect is important on any team. It is needed to build loyalty and mutual trust. A team leader can reinforce respect by taking others’ input regarding decisions that may affect the team.
- Unity. Common goal, vision, purpose. Teams that work towards the same goal and have the same work ethics would succeed. Have you ever found yourself as part of team where your goal was to put the maximum effort in your project, but your teammates did not share the same enthusiasm. The team lacked unity, therefore you were stuck doing most of the work. That is example of an ineffective team.
- Trust. It is very hard to build trust of others. If people encouraged to be honest and have each other’s back, that would build trust in a team. On my own experience I can say once someone broke your trust, it is very hard to rebuild it. However, the management practice should be to build unity in a team, and trust would follow.
- Shared leadership. In a team there is no place for one dominating leader. Leadership roles should be shared between members based on the expertise and team needs. In my previous class, the professor changed different team leader every weak, and I can say it was very effective because the team would benefit by getting different feedback from every leader.
- Open communication. Based on my own experience, I have been in teams where members chose to gossip and talk behind backs. This behavior would undermine the trust, respect and other important aspects of an effective team building. Management’s role should be to facilitate group meetings in case of a conflict and encourage open communication between group members.
- Complimentary skills. The strongest teams are the teams with diverse skill sets. Often people with the same professional backgrounds think alike. In an effective team brainstorming sessions are more productive when everyone brings something different to the table while developing the same idea.
- Strong relationship. According to BusinessWeek, Google invests into movie nights, restaurants on premises with top chefs because they care for their employees and because they want to build a team environment outside of the work projects. By bringing team members together, the company can ensure the strong relationships and collaborative teams.
- Constructive conflict. Open communication, as mentions in my earlier point, is essential in case of any arising conflicts; the lack of trust and respect in teams lead to personal disagreements. For the teams to have a clear and timely conflict resolution, team members are encouraged to openly discuss any conflicts.
Companies that require a lot of teamwork need to invest into building strong and effective teams that would help to eliminate disadvantages of team work such as group think, star complexes, wallflowers, and maintain positive work environment.
Looking forward to your comments!
Conant, D. (2012). Building Effective Teams Isn’t Rocket Science, But It’s Just as Hard. Harvard Business Review.
Davies, N. (2009). Build and Effective Team. Nursing Standard, 23(29), 72.
Elgin, B. (2005). Managing Google’s Idea Factory. Bloomberg Businessweek. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_40/b3953093.htm
Katzenbach, J.R. & Smith, D.K. (1993). The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-performance Organization. Harvard Business School.
Mealiea, L., & Baltazar, R. (2005). A Strategic Guide for Building Effective Teams. Public Personnel Management.