You need people to get things done. If a task requires more than one person to complete, it demands teamwork. Lack of cooperation kills productivity, so it is important for employers to know how to build a team. Following these six ways to build a dynamite team will set your organization on the right path to solid performance over the long haul.
1. Know what you want
The second of Steven Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people is to “begin with the end in mind.” Before you can build a team, you must know what you want that team to be. Considering the work set out for the team, you need to define the optimum group of people to accomplish that work.
Before you start thinking about how many people you need or how they’ll be organized, note the personality traits you want to exist within the team. Of course, you need go-getters, workhorses, and over-achievers. However, challenge yourself to think more deeply. Which personality traits do all team members need to have? Do you want someone who thinks differently than everyone else? Do you want to encourage creative conflict?
Building a new team at work must be planned in order to have a decent shot at success.
2. Define roles
A baseball team can’t function with nine first basemen on the field. It doesn’t work for obvious reasons. Each position on the baseball diamond has a different role to play. The team succeeds when each player fulfills his role in coordination with everyone else on the field. The team’s manager maximizes the team’s potential by placing players in the positions that best suit their abilities.
A work team is no different. Setting up individuals for success sets up the team for success. Placing people in the right roles gives them room to thrive. Invest time in developing accurate job descriptions and in hiring the right people for those positions.
3. Don’t tolerate jerks
No matter how skilled a team member may be, that person — and likely the team — will fail if others don’t want to work with him or her. Competence is expected in any professional role, but it should not come at the expense of tolerating a jerk. The person may have great ideas, but if a sour attitude makes people want to do the opposite, get the jerk off your team. You can’t always build a team from the ground up, so you may be stuck with a jerk in the short term. Don’t put up with him or her in the long term.
4. Set clear goals and expectations
Once you have your team members assembled, the team building process is not complete. Set clear goals the team will achieve and expectations about how the team will behave while reaching for those goals. When you establish a heading and ground rules for getting to your destination, you outline what will be tolerated. These goals and expectations foster a common experience among teammates that builds camaraderie.
5. Praise and reward behavior you want repeated
After setting your expectations, reinforce those expectations through praise and rewards. Behavior that is praised and rewarded is behavior that will be repeated. Humans are like Pavlov’s dog in that way. We get a treat, and we repeat whatever act it took to get the treat.
Praise a team member when he or she exhibits behaviors that promote teamwork. Everyone will see this and will respond accordingly. Before too long, you’ll have a killer team!
6. Get to know each other
Members of a high functioning team care about one another. Work should be the main topic bringing the team together, but don’t neglect the personal side of things. Get to know each other as people who have lives outside the office. If you can’t name your teammates’ spouses and children, that’s a problem. Go out for lunch once in a while. Celebrate birthdays, employment anniversaries, and other personal achievements in addition to team-oriented milestones and deliverables.