27th May 2015
As we observe the fallout from the general election and subsequent leadership battles it is impossible to avoid the recurring theme of successful teams. It is easy to shake our heads at the tactics, rhetoric and power-play but, pausing for reflection, it is not only our politicians who need to focus on effective team working in order to reach new levels of co-operation and productivity.
We all do.
When you think about it, it is madness not to get the best from teams in business. Liken it to investing in a software system but accepting that it works well only some of the time.
A high performing group of employees dedicated to planning and working together with a common goal in mind is what drives companies forward, or at the very least, gets things done!
We all know that many companies are scrutinising headcount and the repercussions are re-shaping teams and impacting motivation, morale and loyalty as people are re-deployed, made redundant or new hires are introduced. The current paradox is that when times are tough, teams need to be at their most effective, however pressure can adversely affect performance, revealing detrimental weaknesses and inefficiencies.
Here's a synopsis of our guidance on building the most effective teams.
- Recruiting the right people is critical. You need people who can thrive in your company culture and work to the organisation's values. Make hiring a team effort, don't write the job specification in isolation and during the interview process introduce existing team members to the potential new recruit. Don't undervalue personality and social skills as these cannot be trained and will directly impact how team members interact with each other.
- Creating an effective team takes planning, determining the tasks that need to be performed, as well as the headcount and skills required to execute them. Using sport as an analogy, the most successful teams are where people "play to their strengths".
- Once you have the people in place clarity of purpose is key. The team must have clearly defined goals and everyone in the team must understand their contributions.
- Within teams there must trust and respect for each other, camaraderie too, people have to enjoy working together.
- Communication is critical, but this shouldn't be confused with just having lots of meetings. We mean sharing information, communicating clearly to avoid confusion and being open to suggestions rather than observing the "we've always done it this way" mantra. Good communication will nurture trust, respect and camaraderie.
- Remember to "treat others as you'd like to be treated". Emulate the type of behaviour you expect from your team members.
- Listen to each other. People who have a different perspective need to feel they are working in a team that considers what they say. This allows for more creative thinking, brain storming, problem solving and creative thinking.
- Don't be afraid of conflict, it's natural, particularly where people are passionate, committed and have a different point of view. What's important is how the conflict is resolved to ensure continued collaboration, not competition, among the team members. Competition within teams is the death knell for effective working.
- Take the time to celebrate success as a team and recognise individual contributions through review and appraisal.
- Teams also require leaders to motivate, delegate, support and inspire, but it is a symbiotic relationship with the effective leader drawing on the individual skills of the talented people within the team.