Building great teams is hard, but it is the key that distinguishes between mediocre and phenomenal successes. The best teams take time to build, but there are many good ways to develop a solid foundation to jumpstart effective teamwork. In order to build a great team, we need to start by assessing a few things about the individuals comprising a good team as well as the environment necessary to produce a great team.
A great team is able to operate efficiently and effectively in all situations. Every individual knows what the big picture is, what their role in the team is, and how to get there. Each member is able to execute to produce results, knows who to go to for different tasks, and acts independently as well as interdependently. There is usually little confusion, miscommunication, or missteps that prevent results from being achieved.
Ego: Anyone who lets their ego get in the way of producing results will always not be a great team player. Share successes, but take responsibility for failure.
Lack of Skills: This can be one of the silent reasons why teams break down. It's usually one of the initial reasons why a team stresses, which then cracks due to other factors that compound the problem. This is why step 1 and 2 are so important. If there is a mismatch between team strengths and the actions necessary to complete the goal, either the team needs to have another member added or the process needed to complete said goal needs to change.
Insecurity: If an individual is insecure, in part it can be attributed to a lack of trust with the team or being designated a task that doesn't match up with their skills or personality. By following the first three steps, this can usually be avoided.
Personality: Let's face it, some personalities simply don't get along with one another. That's why it's important to make sure the team dynamics work and that the team can foster trust between its members. If there is an individual who worked well but over time things changed, the team has to decide whether or not to try to work through the difficulty or to kick the person off the team if they are causing that many problems.
Lack of Defined Goals: Not knowing exactly what everyone is working towards can result in ineffective or even counterproductive efforts. Too much ambiguity leaves room for interpretations that aren't helpful for anyone and result in a team that usually breaks down because no one can communicate effectively and deliver results in ways that build trust.
Team building is hard. There will be many missteps, setbacks, successes, and failures. That's the nature of being on a team. The most important thing to do is to keep an open mind, be tolerant and appreciative of individual differences, and to always work to develop trust between teammates. Through this growing process can the contributions of each member create results greater than what people could produce independently. Team building should be rewarding both as a process and because of the end result it produces, and you'll know you have a great team when each individual's energy builds on everyone elses.
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