Building a great team doesn’t happen overnight. Even successful teams can strike obstacles and a new employee can find it confronting to join a high-performing team, for fear they will not be accepted. Here’s what you can do to build a great team.
By Nina Hendy
1. Set specific goals for the team.
Employees need a clear sense of what the team is trying to accomplish and what success will look like in order to become a great team. They also need clarity of roles, good workflows and sufficient resources, explains Rose Bryant-Smith of Worklogic, a workplace investigations firm that works with employers to triage problems.
“Good leadership is crucial. There’s no one right way to lead and manage, but the leadership must be authentic and a good match for the team, its goal and the context in which it’s working,” Bryant-Smith says.
The leader must hold everyone accountable for what they’re achieving, how they go about it, the culture and the values of the team, she adds.
2. On-board new team members carefully.
The successful introduction of a new team member can set them up for success. Clear information is essential, so they know what to expect and they have the resources and information they need to hit the ground running, Bryant-Smith says.
“Position the team for the newcomer’s arrival and make sure that IT, payroll and other internal functions are prepared and have good systems in place for on-boarding new employees.
“It’s hard to claw back a good impression with a new team member if it takes weeks for their email address to be set up.”
3. Nip toxic behaviour in the bud.
Dysfunctional teams, conflict and toxic behaviour are relatively common. What’s important is to catch problems at an early stage and address conflict and bad behaviour before it spirals out of control or becomes entrenched in the team’s culture.
Employers know that they can’t afford to ignore apparently low-level breaches of the organisation’s rules and values, Bryant-Smith says.
“Social media means that reputational damage can be swift and brutal. Consumers do expect companies to practise what they preach.”
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4. Don’t be afraid of different viewpoints.
Working in a diverse team makes people more likely to prepare thoroughly, anticipate alternative viewpoints and work actively to solve complex problems.
“Group thinking is a real danger when everyone in the team is the same demographic, so if your team has a variety of ages, cultural backgrounds, professional experience or other demographics, see this diversity as a strength,” Bryant-Smith says.
5. Set aside time.
Time is now a commodity that is valued and almost traded as currency, points out creative director, speaker and trainer Nigel Sutton of NDS Productions.
However, when you give a team your time, you show that you value them.
“Successful teams are built on great listening skills, and it takes time to listen to others without interruption. This builds knowledge and encourages a culture of respect.”
Consistency and discipline are important but often overlooked, he adds.
“There are so many new trends in team structures and corporate thinking. If you choose one, make sure you have the time and the capacity to implement it properly, or you’ll lose trust and damage your culture.”
6. Address the past and move on.
Make sure you’re not driving a narrative that supports negative behaviours within the business.
“If dysfunction is coming from historical events, it’s prudent to have an honest discussion on how the past is now affecting the present culture,” says Sutton.
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Make sure you address past issues directly, and work through the steps needed to reach a conclusion and end the old narrative. The team then needs to rebuild a new narrative that reflects the culture they wish to work on.
7. Look beyond your own bias.
Too often terms such as Baby Boomer or Millennial come up, with numerous preconceived notions about a group of people. These narratives can evolve into generalised bias and create conflict and misunderstanding within teams, Sutton says.
Workplace training on human behaviour can be helpful.
“The key to a good working relationship is to help teams recognise their own bias and refocus on dealing with each team member as an individual. No matter what generation you’re meant to belong to, your story, your journey and your interpretation of the world are unique and add value to any team,” Sutton says.
8. Deal with process, not content.
The processes within a business can make or break a strong team. If someone in your team raises their eyebrows, undermines others or speaks over people in meetings, then address it, says Clare Mann, psychologist, trainer, author and managing director at training and development business Communicate31.
The content refers to what they’re saying – which is a separate issue to the process that employees are following to communicate appropriately within the workplace.
“All those little negative interactions can start to deteriorate a team over time, so make sure that you pull people up who aren’t following a proper process and being respectful of everyone within the team. This shows your team that it’s what you expect,” Mann says.
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