Having the right combination of talent and personalities on your team can mean the difference between a successful project and lackluster performance. MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory identifies important group dynamics characterized by high-performing teams as “those blessed with the energy, creativity, and shared commitment to far surpass other teams.” The laboratory further notes that these “dynamics are observable, quantifiable, and measurable.” MIT knows that the right combination of people in a company, department and project directly influence productivity, efficiency and ultimately a company’s ROI.
Here are seven steps to help you build an effective team for the task or project at hand:
- Define your goals. Step one in team building strategies is to define your team’s objectives in clear, easily understood terms. Make sure you outline what your standards for success are going to be, establish clear time frames, and concretely define responsibilities.
- Choose wisely. Once you’ve defined your objectives and goals, it’s time to select the best possible people or types of workers to be team members. This means taking a hard look at each individual’s skillset, and evaluating your skills as a leader. Choose people who excel in areas where you might be weak, and don’t be afraid to choose the guy who you normally don’t have anything in common with if his abilities best suit the project’s objectives.
- Set ground rules. These are the simple directives (team members are expected to update their peers at a weekly meeting) and general guidelines (every team member should have something to contribute to brainstorming sessions) needed to be successful. Protip: Allow the team to have input on what the rules will be to maximize buy-in. All team members should fully understand the goals of the project and feel invested in its success.
- Encourage debate and feedback. The best teams are those that are pushed to brainstorm and collaborate. Creativity blossoms in an atmosphere where clear and open communicationare omnipresent. Don’t let your team’s fear of expressing themselves — even if it’s in disagreement — lead to a culture of mediocrity.
- Build consensus. Though it may be time-consuming, establishing consensus ultimately leads to higher productivity and better decision-making. However, watch out for consensus reached too quickly. You want team members who aren’t afraid to express their genuine opinions about a proposed solution, not a crew of “yes men” just trying to satisfy their responsibilities as quickly as possible. This goes back to the second point – choose people who aren’t afraid to be assertive in their opinions without being pushy or confrontational.
- Lead by example. Be a role model for open, honest communication, and don’t be afraid to get down in the trenches to boost employee engagement when it’s called for. If you ask the team to work nights or weekends in pursuit of a goal, you should be prepared to be there right along with them.
- Stay positive. The most productive teams are those that feel united in achieving their objectives. Foster an atmosphere where there are no stupid ideas, and failure is part of the journey rather than a debilitating embarrassment. Keep their eyes on the prize and prioritize a “no blame or shame” culture. After all, everyone works better when they aren’t being brow-beaten.
Have you had success building a successful team in your workplace? If so, we’d love to hear your tips below. We welcome your comments.