Business are currently looking to 2016 and planning their growth and development. Key to success will be having a winning team that is highly engaged, focused and that delivers.

As it is often noted, a business is nothing without its people and companies looking to accelerate growth shouldn’t overlook the importance of investing in their teams.

The key is to remember that a great team with an average plan will be far more successful than an average team with a great plan. A great team is one that shares a common goal, its members are engaged and work within an environment of support and trust. Employees who are engaged and feel supported are more likely to be loyal and motivated.

Behind every winning team is a strong and positive company culture which must be driven from the top down. Business leaders must create and instil – always leading by example – core company values by which the organisation operates. Core values should be clearly defined and communicated regularly so that team members live with them every day.

Research published by Deliotte earlier in the year shows that culture, engagement and employee retention are the most important issues facing business leaders with 87 percent of organisations citing culture and engagement as one of their top challenges.

Organisations that create a culture defined by meaningful work, deep employee engagement, job and organisational fit, and strong leadership are outperforming their peers and are likely to beat their competition in attracting and retaining top talent.

Google, which this year occupied the top spot for the sixth time in eight years in Fortune’s ‘Best Company to Work For’ , focuses heavily on culture and regularly measures dozens of factors to understand what makes people productive and happy. This research has helped to shape Google’s culture and their leaders explicitly attribute the company’s financial performance to its benevolent people practices.

In order to create their own winning team all companies should be striving to achieve a positive company culture and fully engaged employees. The reward will be a winning team that can propel your company forward in 2016 and for many years to come.

Here are five tips for building winning teams:

  1. Invest in development
Leaders define the reality for employees - they create the company culture, and we all know how much our day-to-day experience of work is determined by the quality of the leadership we receive. One of the most sustainable routes to well-being, motivation and employee engagement comes from developing leadership skills and roles in top talent. Those that are invested in become the most engaged and effective and can lift teams hugely.
  1. Celebrate achievements
While leaders should recognise that they can't motivate all the people all the time - they can create an environment in which their people feel inspired and confident that they can be their best. Focus on what is working well in the team, give regular positive feedback, put success stories as the first agenda item in all meetings and always celebrate success. Shift from discussing problems to exploring solutions and take the time to understand why something has been successful and what the impact has been across the whole business.
  1. Learn from employee surveys
The information held within these surveys is absolute gold dust and will help develop an internal communications strategy which will help create the positive ‘grapevine effect’ and provide a solid foundation for sustainable engagement in the team.

Rather than using annual surveys which employees often come to dread consider ‘pulse’ surveys which are much shorter and more frequent. After annual surveys a committee is often set up to create an action plan which takes time and often loses momentum. A better way is to make small, focused changes to one or two areas, and then track the success of these changes over time. Ensure that survey results are made transparent and that everyone is made aware of any ideas being implemented.

  1. Involve staff in process improvement
Creating a reputation as an employer of choice for both existing and potential staff, and involving staff in process improvement, makes them feel more valued, more highly motivated and more ‘engaged’ with their organisation. Moreover, staff are more likely to implement any subsequent process improvement because it will have come, initially, from them and their peers.
  1. Honesty is the best policy
Create 100% honesty about any business challenges ahead, and include the team in the implications. This will create ownership, loyalty, energy and a sense of oneness. Create work groups - new teams which can get involved with different aspects of the turnaround mission; and establish very high levels of involvement.

By Stephen Archer, Director, Spring Partnerships