5 Steps to Creating Really Effective Teams
Teams have always been, and will always be, an essential ingredient for building a successful business. But building great teams isn't something that just happens. It takes planning and ongoing effort to get them right--and to keep them that way.
Smart leaders know that for their teams to work well, they must accurately identify employees' skill sets and assign them tasks that are well suited to their abilities. When putting together teams, they choose people they sense will work together well. The combined efforts of their team members not only produce superior results, they also build a sense of solidarity within their organizations.
The next time you need to get something important done in your organization, and you want to assign the task to a team, consider these five steps to building really effective teams:
1. Recognize the power of teamwork
Before you begin, take a moment to appreciate the power of teamwork and how you can best utilize this tool. Consider the result you want and the tasks you think are required to achieve it. As you think about your employees, match their skills to the tasks of the project, but also identify personalities you feel complement one another. A successful team project maximizes the talents of its individual members, but the true power of teamwork comes from the group's cohesion and combined energies focused on a common goal.
2. Choose the right people
If you want your team to be really effective, you'll need to get the right people for the job. If possible, try to incorporate employees or departments in your organization that bring varied experience and perspective to the project. If, for example, you're trying to come up with a new way to track customer satisfaction using new social media tools, then be sure to include employees who represent sales, information technology, customer service, and more. Try to choose people for your team who together will provide a broad perspective on your project.
Once you've chosen your team and outlined your expectations, delegate the authority and access the team needs to complete the project. Industrious, energetic, and creative people will become frustrated very quickly if they do not have the freedom, access to tools, and other resources they need to complete their work. Once you have set forth your guidelines, your job becomes making sure they can do theirs. Avoid telling members of a team what to do and how to do it. Instead, work with them to set goals, and then remove obstacles, grant access, and provide the support your team needs to achieve those goals.
4. Monitor progress
In an ideal world, you'll have chosen exactly the right people for the team, and everything will take care of itself. In the real world, you will have to verify that the team is working well together and that the project is on track. Provide, as necessary, a forum where you and the team can share concerns, successes, and project status on a regular basis. If necessary, you may find you need to assign a team leader, or redefine the project and reassign roles. As much as possible, however, try to let the team work through its own challenges. When a team identifies, addresses, and pushes through obstacles on its own, individuals draw closer together, and their success gives rise to confidence and camaraderie.
5. Celebrate your successes
When your team accomplishes or exceeds its goals, then be sure to recognize the win and celebrate it. At minimum, schedule a final team meeting where you can thank the group collectively and describe the positive impact their work will have on your organization and your customers. One hallmark of an outstanding team is camaraderie. The team's success will build on itself, and your team and your organization will be the better for it as the team takes on more responsibility.
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While Peter Economy has spent the better part of two decades of his life slugging it out mano a mano in the management trenches, he is also the best-selling author of Managing for Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 75 other books, with total sales in excess of two million copies. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years, where he has worked on projects with the likes of Jim Collins, Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and many other top management and leadership thinkers. Sign up here to always stay up to date with Peter's latest Inc.com columns, and visit him anytime at petereconomy.com.