Updated: Sep 4, 2020
When it comes to the workplace, strong teams are a key aspect of organization effectiveness. In order for an organization to be successful, it must have employees that know how to work together to create desired results. With strong teams in place, an organization is better able to realize its true potential, whether that's in developing innovative products or managing standard operations.
Occasionally this process occurs naturally, but often a working team benefits from a specific plan that will help them develop their skills and figure out how to work together in the most effective way. Each team member has different strengths and styles, and finding the best ways to use them is an important facet of developing a team that works well together. There are several important factors that should be considered when developing a team.
Establishing clear goals
Setting well-defined goals and success criteria will enable your team to stay on target and measure progress as it is being made. It's critical to establish realistic and relevant goals that the team will actually be able to achieve. A "stretch goal" is one thing, but an unrealistic goal is something else entirely. People aren't motivated to achieve results when they know the expectations are not doable.
Establishing the team
There are five cohesive behaviors that makes a good team truly effective, according to Patrick Lencioni. We've spent years working with helping teams improve, and can confirm that Lencioni has hit the nail on the head in identifying these 5 behaviors:
Most people who have worked together are pretty good at developing what's know as "predictive trust." After observing a teammate's behavior, you know Chris is typically 5 minutes late for the meetings. You trust that if a deadline is imminent, you have to find a way to convince Chris not to be late. On the other hand, cohesive teams have vulnerability-based trust – the kind of behavior that allows people on the team to admit they made a mistake or that they need help, so the whole team can be honest and transparent.
Conflict can occur when team members have different styles, or different ideas. In order to master team conflict, you need to recognize that not everyone is like you, (or even appreciates your style all the time). A great way to do that is to take the DiSC profile. or some other management style assessment. This can help your team distinguish between destructive fighting and interpersonal politics, based on misunderstandings, from the kind of productive, ideological conflict that creates better products and services.
Commitment ensures that there is clarity around decisions and a willingness to move forward with buy-in from everyone on the team, even those who initially disagreed with the decision. Great teams understand that they must be able to commit even when the outcome is uncertain and not everyone initially agrees.
Accountability has become such a buzzword that it has multiple meanings. Lencioni thinks of it as "the willingness of team members to call their peers on performance or behaviors that might hurt the team." This means dealing with and overcoming our natural tendency to avoid difficult conversations. Accountability encourages effective feedback (more on that silly "feedback sandwich" in another article) and discourages passive-aggressive behavior.
Focusing on end objectives
This aspect comes back to clarity about the project goals – the purpose of the team being together in the first place. Instead of enhancing individual career prospects, positions, or even team status, effective teams achieve not just financial measures, but broader expectations and outcome-based performance metrics.
Measuring progress and getting results
To ensure that teams are working effectively, progress should be measured to see what's going well and what needs to be improved. Outlining objectives in a clear way is a good start. Appropriately detailed project plans that allow you to measure quality and task accomplishment are key. AND monitoring the health of your team based on how they are performing these five major behaviors will ensure you get the results you want while providing the most value, as your team works toward their goals.
Team development is an ongoing process. With a strong team that has learned how to work together effectively, businesses can expect to become more innovative and productive. With the objective guidance of an external consultant, or the proper support of an internal facilitator, organizations can develop their teams to be better able to reach their goals, creating a more efficient, productive and successful workplace.