A colleague of mine asked me this question a couple of days ago and it made me stop and think – what does it take to create a strong cohesive team? Is it the strength of the leader who can successfully motivate the members? Perhaps it’s the fact that a select few share a common goal and work together to solve any and all problems to reach a final conclusion? Or does a great team just happen to occur due to the force of the individual members who make up a particular group?
After much thought and a few cups of java, I decided it’s a combination of all three of those factors. And if one of them is missing from the equation then the team will most likely fail at reaching their goal.
Leaders Set the Tone
I’ve done some research online and found that almost all articles about creating solid teams start with one thing in common: strong leadership direction from the top down.
Giving your team members clear, concise directives on what you expect them to achieve is crucial in guiding them in the right direction from day one. Having quantified a clear and measurable goal ahead of time keeps the team members from having to guess what they need to do or waste time second-guessing if the direction they’re taking is the correct one. It also helps if the team leader narrows down the direction to no more than three key points. As Jim Collins, the author of the best-selling management books Good to Great and Built to Last says, “If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.” Prioritizing the task ensures that the most urgent parts get finished first while the less pressing issues can wait until later to be addressed.
Be Clear On Intentions and Purpose
Now on to creating that whiz-bang team. Whether you’re in hiring mode or choosing employees from your already brimming talent pool to be on your team, make sure that you have already prepared a set of values and behaviours so that everyone knows how to work best with one another. If your company doesn’t have a set of core values created, perhaps now is the time to do it.
Having a clear-cut set outline of what the company believes in and stands for is key in fostering a like-minded team as all members know what is expected of them, especially when it comes to office protocols and behaviours. It’s necessary for every member of the team to be ‘on the same page so to speak when it comes to fair treatment and showing of respect for the other person’s opinions.
You want all of the members to feel free in contributing their thoughts and input on the project, free from judgement or ridicule. If boundaries are set up ahead of time it will save later aggravation and possible disputes between your people.
Teammate Qualities to Look For
Having outlined leadership and team expectations, here’s a few qualities in the individual members that need to be in place in order to create concrete results from a team.
- Make sure that all members are focused on the same goal and end results. I know that sounds trite, but you need to remember that your team members are first and foremost individuals with their own specific way of thinking and working. If you’ve outlined the goal and how you expect everyone to reach the end post of the game, then you’ll avoid any drama by individuals who don’t ‘get’ the gist of the mission.
- Ensure everyone is a contributor and that there is no one who is just along for the ride. No employee likes to feel that they’re being taken advantage of in the workplace… ever. If there are one or two people who are simply coasting along and not holding up their end of the expected workload, then you, as the leader, will need to dig deep with them and find out why. Perhaps they don’t understand what they need to do or maybe they’re simply not interested. Either way, you’ll need to determine what’s going on with them and replace them if they’re not a good fit in the overall team.
- Communication… communication… communication. This point can’t be repeated enough. If for any reason the team members fail to effectively communicate with each other AND the leader, then that aforementioned glue is going to let go. Failure to be able to speak freely among each other and share ideas is one of the most necessary, if not the main ingredient to creating a vibrant team. Interaction and brainstorming between members will create new ideas and interesting concepts for completing tasks. And what team leader doesn’t want their people to be creative in coming up with new ways of achieving success?
Last, but certainly not least, is one aspect that is often overlooked when creating a solid group and that is… fun. Yes, FUN! If your team is always dead serious during meetings and no one ever smiles, then you’ve got a problem. A bit of levity can go a long way to relieving possible stress and tension that might be building up within the team, especially when a deadline is looming. Crack a joke or ask the members if anything funny happened to them over the weekend – anything to break the ice and help them relax a bit before they settle down and get to work.
Hopefully these guidelines and thought processes will help you not only create a thriving team but assist your company in achieving amazing results. It’s worked for us here at Dovico so I’m positive it’ll work for you as well.
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford