One of things I like to do is work with teams of people. I like to help people build teams, and I like to help people fix their teams. One of the things I’ve observed is when teams work (together)—teams work. Is your team a team in name only?
If so, let’s see what we can do to fix that.
What makes a team?
Most of us think of our team as the people we see and work with everyday, and that is true for most of my clients.
One of my clients is quite different. They are a national organization with offices around the country. The managers of the various offices rarely see one another but are, in fact, a team.
They are a team because they have some common goals they want to accomplish.
That alone, however, does not a make a team.
A team, I would suggest, must be a place where people:
- Are other-centered
- Dedicated to good communication
- Open to new ideas
- Focused on solutions
- Possess shared values
- Are accountable
Breaking down the different parts of the team
Without this there is no team. In an effective team, the needs of others are the first consideration. We all know people who seem determined to get their way. They are not particularly good at “playing well with others.” If this is a problem in your team, it may be necessary to talk to these people privately and let them know that while their needs are important so are the needs of others.
It is true there is no “I” in T E A M. There is however a “ME” lurking, and it is the “me” centered team that quickly falls apart.
Dedicated to good communication
The effective team must be dedicated not simply concerned about good communication.
Good communication involves listening and sharing important information in a timely manner. Lecturing, arguing, interrupting, criticizing, and being stubborn are the antithesis of good communication and will cause a team to unravel.
Open to new ideas
Practice being other centered and a good communicator, and you will automatically be open to new ideas.
Focused on solutions
Teams that are problem, rather than solution, oriented don’t function well because they remain stuck and drain the life out of the positive members of the group. While it is important to listen to the concerns of others, it is also important that you set goals and make plans to reach them.
Possess shared values
Being other centered is an example of a shared value. So are fairness, honesty, loyalty, respect and integrity. When teams are having trouble, I look to see if they have articulated and are adhering to shared values.
Warren Buffett looks for three qualities when hiring someone: integrity, intelligence and energy. The most important, he maintains is integrity, “Because if they don’t have that, the other two qualities, intelligence and energy, are going to kill you.” (Those are also great values to look for when creating a team.)
If you want someone to be accountable, you must give them something to account for and someone to account to. When the team makes decisions, make sure you know who is going to do what by when and make sure you follow-up to determine if people are doing what they said they would do.
If you think about it, the qualities that describe a good team could also apply to a good marriage. Teams like marriage need tending in order to grow. Learning from and applying the lessons of successful teams is one of the best ways to assure your team and you have a long and fruitful relationship.