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We’re all familiar with the saying, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” But no matter how many times we sigh and say that we’ve heard before, it won’t stop being true.
We use teamwork in various scenarios, ranging from professional to personal. A group of people coming together to tackle one common goal can be a beautiful thing. But what isn’t beautiful is trying to drag team members by their heels to work collaboratively. Some people don’t gravitate toward collaboration, or they don’t see the importance of teamwork at all.
It’s sometimes a struggle to build a strong and effective team. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Let’s start by discussing the purpose of teams and what makes a good team to begin with.
What is the purpose of having teams?
Teamwork isn’t just about finishing tasks faster. Teamwork increases overall productivity in a workplace over a sustained period, not just for one moment. Effective teams pursue a common outcome and have a common goal they want to reach.
Healthy teams have mutual respect between members of the team and management. Plus, team members value one another’s contributions and skill sets.
Having a team allows people with different strengths to work together. That’s the beauty of collaboration: No one has to work alone and struggle through specific tasks. Instead, people can opt to work on tasks that suit their strengths.
That doesn't mean they choose only the tasks they like, but they use their strengths to help others, and team members lend their strengths in-turn. Team members can learn from each other, too. Collaboration encourages creativity and takes advantage of diverse viewpoints.
What makes a good team?
We’ve all observed teams that just don’t seem to click. That leads to frustration in team members. Plus, a team that doesn’t successfully work together won’t hit the mark when it comes to completing tasks and projects. As you strive to develop a team, consider these 10 characteristics that are commonly seen in great teams:
- There’s camaraderie throughout the team
- Everyone respects one another
- People practice active listening when others speak
- Highly adaptable to change
- Effective communication throughout each department
- Problem-solving happens without arguments
- Decision-making includes the whole team, not just managers
- Conflict is resolved quickly
- People take ownership of their mistakes
- Feedback is welcomed and empowers others to do better
If you’ve read through this list and found a few that are lacking in you or your team, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’ll lack them forever. A BetterUp coach can guide you to become better at setting important goals and developing effective behaviors on your team. You can also develop critical leadership skills.
5 tips for building a successful team
A successful team takes time to come into its own. Even if team members are excited about learning about effective teamwork, working out issues takes time.
Here are five tips to help build a great team if you’re just starting out:
1. Have brainstorming sessions with the entire team
Every workplace encounters challenges, uncertainty, and times when setting new goals. Since you’re trying to build a team environment, why not include the entire team in these brainstorming sessions? Doing so shows people that their perspectives matter.
It also offers more varied perspectives and potential knowledge or creativity. Remember: Everyone you meet knows something that you don’t.
2. Improve and establish respect
Mutual respect is a key part of teamwork. Nobody will want to work together without it, and they won’t work well if it’s forced. People feel safer and more comfortable when it’s clearly stated that everyone deserves to be respected in the workplace. Plus, it creates an environment where everyone is aware of boundaries.
3. Stress the importance of communication
Having effective communication means that everyone is aware of their responsibilities. Team members know what’s expected of them, their team leaders, and how to ask for help. Good communication is even more important if your team is working on complex or sensitive projects to prevent confusion.
4. Foster good company culture
Aim for a supportive, positive work environment. A good leader can read the team environment and makes sure everyone is appreciated for their work. Collaboration is more achievable when all team members feel valued and empowered to pursue their passions in their roles.
5. Stay organized as best you can
High-performing teams don’t become that way with unorganized routines and management. They know what tools and resources they have when working on a project and know how to solve any potential problems. The unorganized team makes sloppy mistakes and wastes time. Someone needs to be responsible for delegating tasks and keeping everyone on schedule.
4 essential dynamics a good team should have
As we work to implement strategies and habits to build our teamwork skills, consider what dynamics make a strong team.
Here are four team dynamics to keep in mind:
- Dependable: Everyone should trust that team members will complete their work on time and meet workplace standards.
- Meaningful: Team members who feel like their work is meaningful and has purpose will enjoy doing it. This in turn leads to greater productivity.
- Supportive: All team members should feel safe and respected. This allows them to be themselves and contribute their ideas without the fear of being harassed or put down.
- Structured: Everyone on the team should know their workload and understand their routine.
The role of leadership in team building
A team’s success can depend on the leaders guiding that team. A leader needs to be a team player and demonstrate how they want their workplace to behave. Leaders who don’t effectively set goals, lead team meetings, or handle disputes between staff won’t motivate their team to succeed.
Leadership requires a Whole Person™ who brings different experiences and perspectives to a team. They must understand that staff work better when their mental health is prioritized. Doing so helps prevent burnout.
BetterUp can help you identify and improve leadership skills to keep your team functioning at its best.
3 extra tips for recognizing a good team in the virtual world
Things can become a little tricky for entirely virtual teams. But that doesn’t mean that remote workplaces should be ignored and written off. Self-managed teams who work virtually can be just as effective and successful as those who see each other face-to-face.
Here are three characteristics of an online team that works well together:
- People celebrate other team member’s wins and learn from their mistakes
- Management is consistent with meetings and communication
- There’s a genuine interest in each team member and who they are outside of their virtual work
Each team has a different dynamic that makes them unique. What works for one team may fail for another, but that’s okay. As long as a team sees the value in what teamwork can bring them, that’s what matters. Teamwork makes for a more respectful, aligned workplace that knows the common goals and how best they can reach them.
If you struggle leading meetings or communicating, develop those skills through a relationship with a BetterUp coach. Our coaches can show you the true meaning of making your dreams work with teamwork.