4 Tips of Highly Effective Teams

April 23, 2013

We all want our teams to be more effective, functional and self-governing. While many of us have sat through hours of training, lectures and seminars to find the secret formula for a perfect team, it turns out that in order for a group to reach its full potential, it simply needs to be self-aware.

"The issue of the team becoming one and bonded around an identity is something I've found very useful," says Vincent D. O'Connell, Asia regional director at Globecon Institute, a training and performance firm that services the financial industry. He's also co-author of 9 Powerful Practices of Really Great Teams. "Teams are very productive when people share a sense of identity separate from that of the organization itself."

How do you get a team to bond around, share and identify with a common identity? Here are 4 steps O’Connell recommends:

1. Give the team a name: Whether the name is more whimsical (think along the lines of “The Superhero Team”) or simply describes what the team does (“The Customer Service Team”), the act of developing a name bonds its members. An actual name, no matter how creative or to-the-point, gives members of the team a shared identity.

2. Develop a mission statement: Like the team name, the mission can be as simple as why it was formed, which customers it serves, or the result they are looking for. “It's useful to have that written down and shared among the team so all team members agree on what they're there for,” says O’Connell. Setting some guidelines for how the group should be run is also essential – all members should have a clear understanding of how meetings should be ran, decisions made, etc. Ideas for these include:

As a team, we request an agenda for each meeting.

As a team, we believe if someone’s speaking, we should all listen attentively.

As a team, we will vote on all decisions before they are made.

3. Do a self-assessment: A team self-assessment is similar to an individual self-assessment. What is this team good at? What are we not as good at? What does the team need help with? An important part of the assessment should be looking at the role each team member is playing and whether it is best suited to their strengths. This grows trust among members – they don't feel like they have to second-guess or double-check what that person does.

4. Develop listening skills: While we all “listen” on a daily basis, there is a different listening skill set needed during meetings and brainstorming sessions. The best teams take their time arriving at solutions and ideas rather than rushing to make a decision and take action. Whether your team has someone taking minutes, writing ideas on a whiteboard or even taping brainstorming sessions, take your time to explore all ideas to ensure the team will come to a fully formed conclusion.

While following these tips will get you steps closer to developing a more effective and successful team, it truly does take time and the patience of its members. So whether you are evolving your sales strategy, developing new software, or planning an office move, look around your office, pool together your next team and use the tricks above. An effective team will keep your employees happy and mean better business for your company.