"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." - Henry Ford
Effective teams are the core of every successful business. Assuming you’ve hand selected your talent with a keen eye for motivation, skill, and adaptability, then according to Mr. Ford, congratulations...you’re one third of the way there.
Hey, nobody said building a strong team was easy!
Next up to bat, is trying to understand each employee’s skill set, optimizing the ways those skill sets complement each other, and being a consistent source of support and motivation. Learning how to build a strong team means walking a fine line between patience on one end, and pushing towards important goals on the other. Not everyone will do it the same way, but here are 6 common denominators used by effective team builders all over the world.
1. Refine your personal leadership skills
Leadership skills don’t develop overnight, and styles vary. But by taking intentional steps towards improving, you will increase your chances of building trust, rather than fear, among your team members. In turn, they will be more likely to stay motivated—even when you aren’t around.
2. Try to understand your team members’ work styles
Not everyone works the same way you do. This is a life lesson most of us need to learn and relearn throughout our careers. After you become familiar with your employees’ skills, background and accomplishments, try to understand what makes them tick as people. What conditions allow them to work most effectively? This will help you maximize their talent and build confidence.
3. Clearly define roles
If you notice a wide range of communication and work styles among your team members, don’t be discouraged. Not all teams are high in consensus. Sometimes it takes different parts to make a machine run smoothly. Take time to study your talent. Who are the creative team members? The organizers? The communicators, facilitators, and leaders? Always communicate to your employees that roles can change for the good of the team. Flexibility is essential to the team building process.
4. Establish rules and expectations
Establishing and communicating expectations early can help you anticipate obstacles before they arise. These can range from expectations around communication, to meeting deadlines, to leveraging proper channels for assistance or grievances. Remember, just because you set the guidelines early doesn’t mean they can’t be revised in the future. However, if you do make changes, just make sure you communicate them clearly.
5. Give and accept feedback
No matter how confident, capable, and productive your team is—they’ll want to hear from you! Make sure to set one-on-one meetings, offering constructive feedback that will help them reach professional goals. Celebrate their successes and assist them in overcoming struggles. Listen to what they have to say! This will make you grow as a leader and will strengthen team unity.
6. Evaluate how your team performs under pressure
During busy stretches, it’s easy to get caught up in goals, deadlines, and the anticipation of future projects. Even when you are confident in your team’s abilities, bad habits can always creep up. When things are unusually tumultuous like this, reflect on what is working and what isn’t. Avoid falling back on bad habits just because it’s how things were done in the past.
Remember, when it comes to building a strong team, perfection is never the goal—effectiveness is! Who knows, if you leverage these team building strategies skillfully, you might just earn yourself one of those “World’s Best Boss” coffee mugs you’ve always secretly wanted.