28/05/2010

By William Montgomery, CEO of TEN

Everyone would enjoy being on the dream team. That’s a group of performers each skilled in his/her own specialities, pulling together accomplishing greater things than the added total of each performing separately.

Most organisations talk teams, but primarily reward individual achievement. They also attract and promote people who sometimes resist the idea of tying their performance to that of others. But teams, although uncomfortable to some, are the best way to accomplish integrated tasks like creating systems, producing complex products or sustained coordinated efforts. They are also useful in cutting across boundaries to get things done.

The key to successful team building lies in identifying roles, tasks, rewards and objectives with the team, not the individuals.

Here are ten actions for building effective teams:

1. Establish common cause and a shared mindset. A common thrust is what energises dream teams. It is best to get each team member involved in setting the common vision. Establish goals and measures. Most people like to be measured. People like to have waypoints along the way to chart their progress. Most people perform better with goals that are stretching.

2. Once mission, outcomes and goals are established, create a plan. In order to be resource efficient, a plan is necessary to avoid duplicate work and things falling through the cracks.

3. Follow the basic rules of inspiring teams members. Tell people what they do is important, say thanks, offer help and ask for it, provide autonomy in how people do their work, provide a variety of tasks, show an interest in their work, adopt a learning attitude towards mistakes, celebrate successes, have visible accepted measures of achievement and so on.

4. Create a climate of innovation and experimentation. When how to do something is too rigidly specified, motivation and creativity decrease. How things are done should be as open as possible. Studies show that people work harder and are more effective when they have a sense of choice and ownership.

5. To communicate with team members, work on understanding people without judging them. You don’t have to agree, you just have to understand. To build a team, invest in their learning and education. Give them the benefit of your thinking and particularly what the key objectives of an effort are. The goal is to have them say, “We did it.”

6. Resistance to the idea of a team is best overcome by focusing on common goals, priorities and problems. Sell the logic of pulling together repeatedly, listen patiently to people’s concerns, protect people’s feelings but also reinforce the perspective of why the team is needed, invite suggestions, and show patience towards the unconverted.

7. Build a sense of joy and fun for the team. Even though some will resist it, team-events build group cohesion. Working with the whole person tends to build better teams.

8. Dream teams are usually made up of a variety of talent. While dream teams have all the talent they need to accomplish the task, not any one member has all of the talent. High-performing teams learn how to take advantage of each person’s strengths and avoid unreasonable exposure to each person’s weaknesses.

9. Allow roles within the team to evolve naturally. Research indicates that in well-functioning teams people gravitate to roles such as leader, process manager, innovator, evaluator, organiser and negotiator. Generally each role needs to be played by someone on the team for the whole team to be effective.

10. Struggling with motivating a virtual team? Virtual teams are everywhere now, so it’s hard to avoid them. Use common-sense tactics to stay connected. Schedule frequent conference calls. Identify regular times when you can be available for mutual teamwork and communication. Leverage multiple technologies (video, conferencing, groupware, etc. And, be mindful of cultural differences, if the virtual team is global.

William Montgomery
CEO of TEN

Through his workshops, William Montgomery has helped hundreds of organisations and schools plus thousands of people to achieve their potential. To discuss your continuous improvement requirements, please call 0117 325 2010 or send a message to mail@askten.co.uk