Building an Effective Team

November 10, 2010

In today’s business world, it’s important to be able to work with other people. As human beings, we can accomplish more working together as a team than we can as individuals. According to the University of California, San Francisco’s Human Resource Guide: “Team building can lead to good communication with participants as team members and individuals, increased department productivity and creativity, clear work objectives, better operating policies and procedures, and higher levels of trust and support.”(1)

Effective Team Players

In order to build an effective team, you must have effective team players. Let’s examine some of the characteristics of effective team players: according to the article Creating Effective Team Players, The Sideroad by Kevin Eikenberry:

· Effective team members are committed

· Effective team members are focused on the Team’s objectives

· Effective team members are Supportive

· Effective team members are Competent

· Effective team members are Collaborative

· Effective team members Provide Feedback

· Effective team members are Good Communicators

· Effective team members value and build Trust

· Effective team members are Proactive

· Effective team members are Learners(2)

In my professional experience, the above characteristics are important for each individual if the team is to function as a cohesive unit. All members have to be committed to whatever the team is being tasked to do. It’s always helpful for team members to keep in mind what the end goal is, whether it’s a software implementation or a football game. In addition, members need to have a certain level of competency in whatever field they are in. If you have members on your team who are incompetent, this will result in other team members having to pick up the slack, which leads to divisiveness within the team. Also, it’s important that team members collaborate and provide feedback. A team that does not communicate well will not be productive because no one knows what is going on, what progress is being made on assigned tasks and goals, and there will probably be a duplication of effort. Team members must also trust each other. Without trust, open and honest communication will not happen, which will hamper any effort the group undertakes. Finally, effective team members must be proactive and have a desire to learn. Being proactive will help the team to overcome the obstacles which will surely arise with any large project. Being able to learn will help each team member better understand what needs to be done, be more accepting of each other’s differences, and will also prevent the team from wasting time and doing or redoing work.

One characteristic not mentioned above is the ability to delegate. According to the article “Delegating for Success” by Dale Callahan, “I know we all think about delegation as a management job – but it is ALL our jobs.”(3) When working on a team, each member has strengths and weaknesses. If a team member has a skill set for a particular task, it makes sense to delegate that task to that team member. According to a blog posting at blog.yourpmpartner.com, Brian Rabon states that “Every position brings something unique to the table, and it takes everyone working in concert to achieve the desired outcome.”(4) An old phrase to sum up this concept comes to mind, “Jack of all trades and master of none”. If you fail to delegate, the success of your team’s project is in jeopardy.

Effective Team Building

There are several ideas which are central to building the team. In his blog posting “Great Management” by Andrew Rondeau, below are a few ideas to help the team grow into a cohesive unit:

· Set clear objectives

· Build relationships

· Hold regular meetings

· Demonstrate trust

· Stretch your team outside of its comfort zone

· Foster innovation

· Give constructive feedback

· Praise positive team-oriented behavior

· Take pride in your team

· Celebrate success(5)

The first item in the list, Set clear objectives, is one of the most important. Every team member must be clear on what needs to be done. Without a clear objective, chaos will ensue. Building relationships is also very important. If team members don’t like each other, or they don’t really have any type of relationship, it is difficult for each member to feel like they are able to make a contribution. Another important item is to demonstrate trust. Without trust, the team will fail. Building trust within the team will allow open and honest communication, which in turn will allow ideas to flow freely.

Conclusion

In order to build an effective team, you must have team members who can get along with each other, collaborate, and are competent. In addition, the team must have a clear idea of what its goal is, have clear operating rules, and each member must feel like their ideas are valued and they are making a contribution to the overall goal. Finally, the team must have open and honest communication. By following these suggestions, you are well on your way to having a cohesive team that functions well.

By: Stephen Crowder

References

(1) “Team Building” University of California, San Francisco, Guide To Managing Human Resources

http://ucsfhr.ucsf.edu/index.php/pubs/hrguidearticle/chapter-14-team-building/

(2) “Creating Effective Team Players: The Sideroad” Kevin Eikenberry

http://www.sideroad.com/Team_Building/creating-effective-team-players.html

(3) “Delegating for Success” Dale Callahan

http://www.dalecallahan.com/delegation/

(4) “Remember to Delegate 9/27/2010” Brian Rabon

http://blog.yourpmpartner.com/?tag=team

(5) “Great Management” Andrew Rondeau

http://www.greatmanagement.org/872/effective-team-building-10-ways-build-effective-teams/

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