One of the biggest challenges for business leaders is getting the right group of people together on a team that will deliver the results you desire for your company. Business is all about relationships, and it's therefore not surprising the relationships that team members have with one another can have a direct impact on the team's outcomes.
Despite all your best efforts to put together a stellar, high-performing team, sometimes teams just don't gel or perform the way you'd hope they would. When that's the case, you need to take action right away and not let teams continue in their unproductive ways.
1. Shake up the team.
If you're only seeing familiar faces in all of your meetings, it's a sure sign you need to shake things up. Jump-start your teams by pulling together diverse groups of people drawn from different parts of your organization. Former Walt Disney Company vice chairman Roy Disney told this story about his famous uncle: "There's an old story about Walt from the early days when we were making short subjects -- really just a collection of gags. Every week, Walt had a gag contest and everybody was free to enter -- the winner got $5, which was a lot of money during the Depression. And who kept winning, week after week? The janitor. You see, it's not about who's the boss. It's about who's got the best ideas."
2. Get outside your office.
Instead of meeting in the same old tired conference room, drinking the same old tired coffee, and eating the same old tired donuts, take your meetings on the road. Meet in a courtyard outside of your building, a local park, or Starbucks. Better yet, meet at a key customer's facility and work with them collaboratively on a problem that will benefit both the team and the customer.
3. Celebrate your successes -- and your failures.
When your team accomplishes the goals you set for it, take some time to celebrate. Encourage members of the team to create awards for one another, and set a small budget to pay for inexpensive mementos of the occasion -- such as coffee mugs or T-shirts with your company logo -- to hand out at the final team meeting, along with your sincere thanks. And if the team tried something and failed, celebrate that, too, and encourage your employees to learn lessons from their attempt and to try again.
4. Delegate authority for the task.
There's been a lot of talk in recent years about the need to empower employees and get them engaged in their work, but the truth is that in many organizations, true empowerment is still just talk. Research clearly shows that empowered employees are happier, more creative, more effective, and they produce more than their under-empowered colleagues. So when you give a team an assignment, make sure they have the authority they need to complete it.
5. Get the right people on board the bus.
Not necessarily the smartest people, nor the people with the thickest resumes -- you want the right people for the particular team you're putting together. If, for example, you're working on a new internal process for tracking customer orders, be sure you've got some of your top salespeople on the team, not just your accounting or shipping staff. Your salespeople are the ones who know your customer's best and who understand the pain your customers feel when orders are delayed or lost.