Working with a team is a great way to enhance productivity and drive innovation, but only if you have an effective team. Unfortunately, not all teams are effective, which stifles growth and leaves team members feeling frustrated. The solution isn’t to give up on working as a team. The solution is to know how to build an effective team so that each member is able to contribute in meaningful and impactful ways. Here are 7 tips for building an effective team:
Theme Your Team
The first tip for building an effective team: you have to know what the team is for.
For example, you might create a disaster recovery team with members who are tasked with getting your business back up and running after a cyberattack. You might create a sales team ahead of the launch of a new product, or you might simply need a celebration team that coordinates birthday and holiday treats.
Theming your team is especially important if you’re creating smaller teams within a larger team atmosphere. When you know exactly what kind of team you’re forming, you can better explain it to others so they can make an informed decision about whether or not they want to join.
Make Sure Team Members Serve Different Roles
Each member of the team should serve a certain purpose. That might mean divvying up responsibilities for each member, as would be the case with a disaster recovery team. It might also mean having a member who spearheads the meeting with another member in charge of taking notes and sending them to everyone in attendance.
You should also think carefully about the broader roles members serve in a team. You don’t want a team full of knowledge specialists and no one with the skills to implement those ideas, or a team full of creative thinkers who struggle to come up with attainable solutions. The trick to building an effective team is to create a diversified team with members who have a wide range of strengths and abilities.
Foster an Atmosphere of Trust
You want your team to feel comfortable enough with each other to offer new ideas and suggestions. The only way people are willing to be vulnerable is if they feel like they can trust those around them.
That’s why it’s so important to build an atmosphere of trust with your team.
Everyone wants to feel a sense of validation, which simply means that someone else truly sees their situation or who they really are. The best way to do that in a group atmosphere is to focus on acknowledging people’s thoughts and feelings—whether positive or negative—instead of focusing on the situation itself.
This lays the groundwork for encouraging members to take risks and talk about their mistakes because they know team members will be cued into their personal experience. It means team members are focused on what can be learned and how we can grow from a situation without fear of backlash or repercussions.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Keeping the lines of communication open can help when it comes to creating a trusting atmosphere, but it also supports more productive interactions.
Make sure team members know what platforms to use when communicating with each other, especially if they are working remotely. Encourage team members to ask questions, even if they are just curious about how others think they’re doing.
Everyone might need to brush up on their communication skills. You might schedule a training, read a book, or use a performance management platform that offers opportunities for team members to check in with and leave feedback for each other.
Create Clear Goals
It’s extremely important for team members to know exactly what is expected of them. One of the best ways to clarify expectations is through the use of goal setting.
SMART goals are a great option because they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. They outline everything from specific actions that need to be taken to how long everyone has to reach the goal.
Not only should the team have a shared goal, but that goal should be broken down into individual goals so every single member knows exactly what and how they’re going to contribute. By thinking through the SMART goal system, you can figure out which members of the team are responsible for each aspect of the goal. That way there isn’t any confusion about who is responsible for what.
Talk About More Than Just Work
Team building gets kind of a bad rap, but it can be a great way to strengthen a team. The good news is that it doesn’t require lengthy retreats or getting behind on work to attend a training.
All you really have to do is give team members the opportunity to do more than just talk about work. Some easy team-building activities you can do at work include:
- Set out a puzzle in the break room for team members to work on during break
- Encourage team members to focus on giving at least one compliment to another team member every day
- Host no-pressure brainstorming sessions where team members can share their ideas, no matter how outlandish
- Have everyone fill out a personality test and talk about their findings over a catered lunch
Be Open to Change
Building a team is hard work. It can be tempting to keep things rolling once the team is established, even if changes need to be made.
Ask for input from all the team members about what is working and what isn’t. Then, based on that input, be open to changing members of the team or switching up how the team operates. You might adjust team goals or personal goals, or shake up your meeting schedule.
Keep an open mind and invite change so that the team and everyone in it continues to evolve.
Just putting people together in the same room isn’t enough to create a good team. From choosing the right members to creating goals and fostering an atmosphere of trust, the tips on this list will ensure your team operates at its highest potential.