Everyone in business knows that the key to a successful business lies in its people. As most people work in teams in one way or another, even in smaller organisations, it’s crucial that teams work well together; otherwise it can affect the business and breed negativity.
Richard Branson[i] said that carefully coordinated teamwork is as important in business as it is in sport. The entrepreneur is someone who surrounds himself with experts and has always worked as part of a team in all his businesses, despite being the figurehead and this has helped him gain such huge success.
Managing and motivating teams can however, be very challenging as individuals will have their own opinions, knowledge, values, goals and skills.
To inspire a team a leader needs to create a clear vision and clear expectations of what they expect from their team, both collectively and as individuals. They need to develop an environment of open communication and trust, and ensure that every team member is on-board and understands the team’s goals and the business goals.
The phrase ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’ can be applied to successful team working. It’s essential that every part of the team pulls together and is striving for the same goals. That’s not to say individual goals are not important, they are, but for teams to be effective everyone in the team must understand their role and also how it fits into the bigger picture.
As Bill Gates said “Teams should be able to act with the same unity of purpose and focus as a well-motivated individual.”
Creating successful teamwork though can be a difficult process, but there here are some tips on how to achieve high performance and effective teams:
1. Develop a clear vision
It’s important that everyone in the team understands and buys into a vision. This is something that the team could work on together as part of the process of building a better team. If people feel they have input from the start they are more likely to embrace the vision.
2. Develop clear expectations
Develop clear expectations of what you want from the team and how you expect it to be delivered. Recognise that some people are more inclined to be team players than others, and some people may prefer working alone. It’s important to motivate and inspire team working in every team member.
3. Ensure people know why they belong to the team
Whether the team is old or new it’s important for people to understand why the team is important. A good way is to ask each person to answer the following questions individually, and to then have a discussion, where the team leader shares his views. This could be done once a year to see how the team has changed.
– What is the purpose of the team?
– What is the team goal and how does this fit into the business goals/strategy?
– How do you as an individual perceive your role in the team?
4. Clear communication and tolerance for other styles
Clear communication is at the heart of successful teams and it’s important to think about how you do this. Aim for two-way interaction and the exchange of ideas and make sure to have regular team meetings to encourage this. Good team working also means being tolerant of other people’s styles and ways of communicating. It may be that some people prefer one to one meetings for suggesting new ideas, rather than doing it in front of the team, so managers need to allow people to communicate in the way they feel most comfortable.
5. Develop an environment of open communication and trust
Make sure that outside of scheduled meetings there is opportunity for open dialogue between team workers and the team leader. It’s important that the team leader is approachable and that people feel they can ask for support or help at any time. This helps build trust and a feeling that people are part of a team, rather than just left to struggle on with an issue until the next team meeting.