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You may have asked yourself why putting effort into building a balanced team is so important at a workplace.
For a second imagine yourself in Mark Zuckerberg’s shoes. It’s true that Facebook was totally his idea, it is true that it was his initiative. But do you think, without his team of hard-working professionals and their abilities, his innovation would have reached the hands of so many people around the world? Or that he could handle all the work by himself?
It is always your team that takes your work further, and they can also be called the backbone of the company. This is why it is essential to build and develop a productive team. Let’s have a look at the Do’s and Don’ts of effective team building,
Always remember to,
- Set clear objectives and assign clear roles
The team has to be directed towards one clear objective. It is okay for them to have their own personal differences and different ways of approaching the target but at the end of the day, all those efforts have to be aligned with the objectives of the company as well as the team. But there could be situations where one person or a set of people take extreme actions which are hard for the rest of the team to digest. This polarization should always be avoided when playing as a team. Assigning a team leader to balance out these situations will be helpful.
- Develop individual potential
Effective teams grow together while developing individual capabilities and skills. Hence, it is essential to keep in mind that people are diverse and they have their own sets of skills and capabilities. It is the team’s responsibility to identify these skills and help those individuals to brush them up. Because those skills are what keep the team going.
- Effective communication
The team has to be connected as one. Whenever someone has a question or gets an idea, they should be able to communicate it. The communication within the team must be as smooth as possible. This will improve the collaboration of the team as well as the efficiency. Communication also means what must take place – regularly – between team members and you, or other leaders. This should be as open and transparent – and regular – as possible, to keep the team engaged, and for leadership to learn as early as possible of any issues that need to be addressed.
- A safe place for the team to function
A safe place does not necessarily mean a place where physical safety is ensured. Physical safety is a must, but goodwill among team players is equally important. This will make the workplace more engaging and open to new ideas. People will feel safe to express themselves while staying within their boundaries and not invading other people’s privacy. You as the leader have the bulk of the responsibility to create this culture of support and openness – and comfort with showing your doubts and your vulnerability – when needed.
- Establish strong leadership but never dominate
Leadership is not imposing authority in an overwhelming way. You always need to welcome new ideas and give everyone equal access to feel involved and important. Remind your team leaders that they are all guided by a greater calling.
- The team shouldn’t be too big
This is always a risk and it is always difficult to decide the right number. But what you should keep in your mind is that having too many cooks might result in a spoiled soup. A lot of research has been conducted on this topic, and the general consensus – followed by most militaries – is that a number between 3 and 6, or up to 8, is the most effective unit of organisation – all the way up the ranks.
- Diversity should be celebrated – and actively preserved
“Groupthink” has been studied a lot because it has been found to be common to some of the most catastrophic decisions in business and other spheres in life. While it is important for a team to be able to settle down to a rhythm, no one should ever get too comfortable, such that people start taking cognitive shortcuts, and not thinking outside the frame of reference they have settled in to.
Part of this comes from the diversity of the team – are they from different walks of life, education background, ages, experience? Even if the team is highly diverse, if they work together unchanged for long enough, they will start to think alike. This results in cohesion and ‘team spirit’. It is true that birds of a feather, flock together but within a team, their individuality is very important because it is the diversity that makes a team unique, and losing this is never a good thing. It is important to “rattle the cages” of such teams, and enable some movement between teams, and fresh blood into teams, to stop them settling into groupthink territory.
Building a great team that really clicks, and consistently performs at a high level, is almost more art than science, and often includes a lot of luck – does the right hire walk through the door at the right time, are the right individuals ready at the right time for internal movements, has the team and individuals grown to the position you need them to be for a given assignment? Keeping the items we discussed in mind should make your life as a manager and team builder easier, and your team stronger.
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