High-performance teams drive business success. A group’s ability to innovate and achieve can greatly surpass that of the individual—but only when there’s genuine teamwork, unified understanding of the group’s goals, and synergy. And that’s where the following pointers for building successful teams in the workplace come in.
Don’t leave things to chance by randomly lumping people together, or by just picking out the first people you see from relevant departments. By being deliberate in the way you bring employees together to collaborate, you can design powerful teams and are taking an important step for building successful teams in the workplace.
Of course, there’s always some degree of unpredictability, and it’s important to closely monitor every team’s performance and progress. Be willing to rearrange as needed over time. If certain people just don’t work well together, or you find a team has some sort of imbalance in expertise, or you otherwise identify a shortcoming, be quick to adjust. This sort of flexibility is also a crucial aspect of building successful teams in the workplace for the long term.
How to Create High-Performance Teams
- Appoint someone with strong leadership skills to lead the team. It’s not always a manager or a longtime employee. And sometimes it may not even seem like an official leader is necessary. But every group needs someone to guide it, keep it on track, and make final decisions if it’s to function efficiently.
- Create a culture of teamwork and mutual respect. Encourage employees to share information, insights, and expertise. While some degree of competition can sometimes drive performance on an individual level, it’s generally not helpful at all in a team dynamic. Everyone on a team should be equally invested in everyone else’s performance and in achieving one unified result for the group.
- Assemble diverse teams. A well-rounded team includes a wide range of experiences, expertise, and viewpoints. This refers to all sorts of characteristics, such as people of different genders, ethnicities, ages, socio-economic backgrounds, years of experience in the field, areas of specialty, strengths, and so on.
- Establish ground rules. These can cover a lot of areas, such as when the group will meet, how meetings will be conducted, how everyone will communicate, how disagreements are handled,etc. Just remain open to changing the rules if they seem to hinder progress, or to creating new ones if it becomes clear they’re needed.
- Make sure the team always has a SMART goal. Everyone on the team must be striving toward the same ends. Guide efforts with specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound (SMART) goals. Define them clearly and confirm that each person understands them.
- Clearly define everyone’s role in the group. Building successful teams in the workplace often means moving beyond each individual’s basic job description. Everyone should have a larger role in a group dynamic. Play to people’s strengths—including their character traits as well as their professional expertise.
- Encourage team members to get to know each other. Send them out to lunch together. Arrange team-building activities that aren’t totally lame. Have them take breaks together. Suggest they go to happy hour after work. They’ll do better together when they care about each other, understand each other’s needs and work styles, have some insights into where everyone else is coming from, and otherwise become connected.
- Establish a single method of communication. Provide communication apps or other software that the team can use to talk and track progress on each project. If individuals are emailing or texting each other individually, others may miss out on essential information or ideas. Keep communications centralized and easily accessible to everyone in the group.
- Incorporate regular feedback. This doesn’t only refer to constructive criticism and due praise from the team leader and from above. That’s crucial, but the group also needs to be able to openly discuss its progress, challenges, and concerns. Make sure there are scheduled times and a mechanism in place to allow for this.
- Offer incentives, praise, and rewards. Good work should always be positively reinforced. When a team performs well, make sure that every single member knows it, and knows that their individual contributions are recognized and appreciated. Praise and rewards should go out to team members individually and to the group as a whole.