We’ve all experienced being part of a team that operates well and gets great results. But many of us may also have endured working in a team that lacks the key components to make it work efficiently. So how do you ensure that you build a team that will thrive?
What makes a successful team?
The best teams have clarity. They are clear about the purpose of the organisation and their objectives within it. Team members know what their roles and responsibilities are both in terms of the business and in terms of making their team work. Whether they are a motivator, timekeeper or they simply help the team to be practical, each member is clear about their role.
A successful team is also built on supportive, trusting relationships. Teams who have each other’s back, challenge each other in a supportive way and embrace a growth mindset will model high performance.
The 4 pillars for setting up a virtual team
Catherine Bardwell, TPC Associate Partner, says that as a high-performance team coach, she often refers to Rubin, Plovnick and Fry’s GRPI model of Team Effectiveness. One of the first models of its kind, but still essential to understand today, the model is based on 4 pillars:
Supportive behaviour — team performance is based on frequent, honest communication. Everybody helps each other and understands how individuals work and fit into the team. A common, clear purpose is instrumental to this.
Effective process — there is clarity across the team around all processes from meetings to decision making to accountability and reviews.
Clear roles — the roles and responsibilities of team members and leaders are clearly defined. When defining roles, the best leaders play to their team’s strengths. As Charles Brook, Founder and Managing Partner at TPC Leadership, explains, “you don’t want someone in defence who’s really a natural striker.”
Shared goals — team objectives are shared, and individuals understand how their performance impacts the bigger picture. Communication of goals and progress is continuous and transparent.
How can we further improve virtual teams?
It’s important to regularly revisit the ground rules. Remind people to stay on mute unless they’re speaking, keep their cameras on and agree to switch off mobile phones during meetings. Encourage teams to listen but not interrupt, to challenge ideas creatively and build on the ideas of others. Promote positive behaviours and openly evaluate how well teams adopt them.
As a leader, look at how you can pull the team together and ensure everyone collaborates. Every team has extroverts who can take up a lot of airtime, so create space for introverts to have their say by providing structured, dedicated time for everyone to speak — and time to prepare. Catherine suggests sending out the agenda in advance of the meeting.
Charles warns that regular meetings can become boring. He advocates mixing up the style and focus. Your schedule could include meetings that are purely operational, some that focus solely on innovation or that provide a space for sharing vulnerabilities. It could be a good idea to include a monthly accountability meeting followed by a forum for celebrating success. “After all, it’s so easy to just look to the next challenge without taking the time to celebrate.”
What is the ROI on a successful team?
Investing in successful teams takes effort and hard work, but Catherine and Charles believe the ROI is more than worth it. Engaged, motivated teams with a can-do attitude will be innovative, proactive and hungry for success. They will retain and attract talent, beat the competition and drive results.
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