What differentiates a team from a group is that members are committed to a common purpose, have a set of specific performance goals and hold themselves mutually accountable for the team’s results. Teams can produce outputs that are greater than the sum of their individual contributions. The primary force that makes a work group an effective team – that is, a real high-performing team – is its emphasis on performance.
Managers and team leaders have a significant impact on a team’s effectiveness. As a result, they need to be able to create effective teams if you use the following nine behaviors.
- Establish a common purpose
An effective team needs a common purpose to which all members aspire. This purpose is a vision. It’s broader than any specific goals. This common purpose provides direction, momentum, and commitment for team members.
- Assess team strengths and weaknesses
Team members will have different strengths and weaknesses. Knowing these strengths and weaknesses can help the team leader build upon the strengths and compensate for the weaknesses.
- Develop specific individual goals
Specific individual goals help lead team members to achieve higher performance. In addition, specific goals facilitate clear communication and help maintain the focus on getting results.
- Get agreement on a common approach for achieving goals
Goals are the ends a team strives to attain. Defining and agreeing upon a common approach ensures that the team is unified on the means for achieving those ends.
- Encourage acceptance of responsibility for both individual and team performance
Successful teams make members individually and jointly accountable for the team’s purpose, goals and approach. Members understand what they are individually responsible for and what they are jointly responsible for.
- Build mutual trust among members
When there is trust, team members believe in the integrity, character, and ability of each other. When trust is lacking, members are unable to depend on each other. Teams that lack trust tend to be short-lived.
- Maintain an appropriate mix of team member skills and personalities
Team members come to the team with different skills and personalities. To perform effectively, teams need three types of skills. First, teams need people with technical expertise. Next, they need people with problem-solving and decision-making skills to identify problems, generate alternatives, evaluate those alternatives, and make competent choices. Finally, teams need people with good interpersonal skills.
- Provide needed training and resources
Team leaders need to make sure that their teams have both the training and the resources they need to accomplish their goals.
- Create opportunities for small achievements
Building an effective team takes time. Team members have to learn to think and work as a team. New teams can’t be expected to hit home runs every time they come to bat, especially at the beginning. Instead, team members should be encouraged to try for small achievements at the beginning.