Building Teams


What do you think of first when you hear the
word “Team”? Soccer team? Basketball team? When teams are successful and win, it’s
because they have a clear purpose and specific roles and responsibilities. A clear purpose provides a vision for success. For the fans and management it’s winning the game, for the team it’s going to the
next round, for an individual player contributing their unique talents for the good of the team
for the ultimate reward. When it comes to a work setting, the most
effective teams are built following the same principles – they come together to serve a
purpose, they have clear roles and responsibilities, and teamwork allows the work to get done. If we know all this – why do teams underperform? It’s because in day-to-day work we often
make assumptions and don’t take time to clarify and agree on goals and responsibilities. Without engagement in a common direction,
people will pursue different agendas! Team size is also important to consider. Have you ever included someone on a team just
because you did not want them to feel left out? More team members does not make the team more
productive, that’s because bigger teams require more careful management to avoid free
riding, conflict and power struggles, and can suffer from “analysis paralysis”. As team members are added, process losses,
or factors that make it difficult for a team to live up to its full potential increase,
and diminishes actual team productivity. If you ever thought:
“Others are not making a full effort, so why should I?” or
“I’m not as knowledgeable in this process as they are, I’m sure they can figure this
out without much of my input,” or “Everyone already voiced all of the ideas
I had, I don’t want to repeat.” Then you have probably been part of a team
that was not built effectively, or needed to exist in the first place! So as a supervisor what can you do to make
sure your team is off to a good start? Define a clear purpose and describe what success
looks like. Select your team members carefully – what
skills are needed to get the work done? Then figure out the minimum number of people
needed to present that skill set. Define the roles – not everyone needs to agree
on everything, clarify who will have the decision power, who will be responsible for implementation
and who needs to be informed or consulted? Appoint a naysayer, a person who would ask
“So why we are doing this again?” Plan to evaluate both team performance and
individual contributions. Finally, conduct regular check-ins, provide
coaching and make adjustments as needed. Following these principles will allow you
to build a motivated and productive team that works together toward their shared purpose.

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