How to build stronger teams
11 July 19
High performing teams are essential elements of most successful organisations.
Ensuring team leaders have the skills and behaviours to build stronger teams should be a major focus in organisations where teamwork is important. The influence of digital technology means even experienced team leaders have to continually develop their leadership skills as work is increasingly done remotely, organisational boundaries are more permeable, and more flexible working arrangements become commonplace.
Here is our short guide to the most important aspects of leading high performing teams.
Establish values and goals
Not only do effective teams understand their team’s particular role within the wider organisation, they are also aware of what you as their manager are trying to accomplish. Take the lead in defining team goals and help individuals understand their role in outcomes, enforced with clear timeframes. This clear direction and purpose sets expectations for team performance.
Intra-team trust is a unique predictor of team performance. A high level of trust between team members, particularly when they are dependent on each other to get work done, results in people tolerating more vulnerability and uncertainty and tend to work better with others and stay focused on team goals
This is not just between yourself and your team but between individual team members. Pay attention to the way in which individuals work together and how they communicate together to encourage trust and collaboration. When team members build trust in each other, strong bonds and a sense of loyalty to each other develop. All of this provides a safe, secure and pleasant working environment for your team, helping to increase efficient working practices.
Develop a culture of psychological safety
Psychological safety exists when people feel their team is a place where they can speak up, offer ideas, experiment and ask questions without fear of being ridiculed or embarrassed. This can create an environment where information is shared and learning is supported. Ways to cultivate psychological safety are: ensuring support from colleagues, role modelling behaviours and providing individuals with a clear understanding of their role responsibilities.
Highlight how each member contributes to team goals and encourage listening, brainstorming, debate and creativity to motivate your team to deliver. Form habits around: keeping commitments to each other, meeting deadlines, planning next steps and decision-making processes. Be open to suggestions and concerns yourself, offer help and ask questions.
Delegating means your team can then work on developing creative solutions together. Practice a participative leadership style when leading meetings, delegating, demonstrating accountability and setting direction. Allow individuals to experience how other people work so they can develop competencies to enhance their contribution to the team.
Foster a culture of teamwork
if you want to encourage collaboration then organisational culture must support this. Take action to create an environment that expects, fosters and rewards teamwork and encourage the team to be comfortable in taking risks to build trust. When you begin to develop a sense of belonging for members in the group, team norms and guidelines can be developed and the group can evaluate performance and feedback on itself. Recognise achievements; rewards don’t need to be big but make them frequent so you develop motivation and impact.
Focus on strengths
If team members use their strengths every day, they are more likely to be engaged. Everyone is different, so focus on individual strengths, value each role and your team will develop a combined skillset. Since members of the team will have different personality types you will need to develop a culture of embracing differences to support each other to perform better. The individuals in your team may be skilled, ambitious and motivated, but this does not mean the team is working effectively.
Provide teamwork training
This aims to improve how team members work whilst trying to solve common tasks. This in turn improves teamwork behaviours, such as defining the team’s mission and performance, in particular performing better on their tasks. Different teams benefit from different training, for example teams who have been together a long time might improve performance whilst new teams will advance more in the behaviours they enact to work together. Interactive methods of training are best to stimulate critical thinking such as case studies and aim it at several components of teamwork based on the stage of the team. To make the training more effective, work on increasing participant motivation.