How To Build Team Effectiveness
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Teams are an integral part of most successful corporations, with studies showing that team effectiveness is one of the top reasons why companies succeed or fail. When teams work well, they can unleash creativity and motivate each other to accomplish great things.
When teams don’t function effectively, however, it can create a sense of chaos and desperation. In these cases, people may be willing to do anything to avoid failure.
In both situations, the costs outweigh the benefits. It takes energy to keep people together in a group, so when there isn’t much incentive to stay connected, things often deteriorate quickly.
Fortunately, you can increase teamwork at your workplace by using some basic strategies. With this article, we will go over five ways to build team effectiveness at your organization.
1. Create clear goals
Team members must know what their responsibilities are before anyone else can ask them to perform those duties. This way, everyone is on the same page and nobody gets left out or confused as to what needs to happen next.
Asking questions such as “What does our department need to achieve this quarter?” or “What are our short-term and long- term objectives?” can get you the answers you want.
2. Hold regular meetings
Making time every week or even every day for formal meeting opportunities is crucial to effective teamwork.
As mentioned before, one of the key team effectiveness strategies is having good communication. This can be with colleagues at your workplace or external groups like ones that you join online.
It’s important to be clear about what you say and how you say it – we'll talk more about this in week two where we look at assertive communication skills.
In addition to verbal messages, non-verbal cues also matter so make sure you are showing appropriate intensity, enthusiasm and engagement for the task at hand.
When people notice that these things aren’t there, they may assume something bad is happening or that you don't care about the work.
Keep conversations focused and relevant, use ‘I’ statements rather than asking questions, give logical reasons for decisions, and emphasize facts not opinions. When possible, refer back to earlier discussions to see if their ideas were included.
Avoid gossip as this could damage trust and teamwork.
Be a good listener
A lot of people think that being a leader is only about giving orders to others, but leading effectively requires you to listen more than talk. You have to pay attention to what other people are saying, understand their points of view, and respond in a way that encourages them to repeat their statements or advance your goals.
As a leader, you will find yourself doing this a lot- not just at work, but also at home, with friends, and even among family members.
It’s important to be aware how much time you spend listening actively versus passively. If you struggle to make eye contact and avoid sounding too enthusiastic when someone else is talking, consider whether you need some lessons in active listening.
Being a good listener can help you achieve many things- including helping colleagues feel appreciated and connected to the organization. It can also reduce tension between individuals in the workplace, and may even improve team cohesion.
But it takes practice, so start by making an effort to really listen to what other people say, and then gradually increase your efforts as you get better.
As mentioned before, being a leader means creating an environment where your team members can feel comfortable asking questions or seeking advice from you. Leaders are not only made of solid foundations, but they also set examples by how they perform their job.
Your colleagues will look up to you and learn from you, if they see that you’re always aware of what is going on around you and you're ready to give helpful tips and answers.
This is especially important in the workplace today, as most people don't have much experience outside of work like you do.
If someone comes to you with a question, try to find out more about them and why they asked this question, then provide appropriate answers based off those reasons.
Don’t just repeat what you were told at school either, instead relate what you learned to make sure the person understands the concept properly.
It's impossible to be a good leader unless you know what you're talking about, so spend time studying and learning, but don’t overdo it.
Make good use of time
A few simple things you can do to help your team achieve its potential is to make good use of their time. This could be changing how they organize projects, giving them more access to resources, or creating effective job roles for individuals.
Team effectiveness also depends on having clear goals and expectations, as well as understanding each other’s jobs. When people feel that their efforts don’t matter and there are no consequences for poor performance, then they will keep doing things without extra motivation.
It’s important to recognize that someone who does not perform his/her duties properly may need additional training or guidance, but it should never be because the person doesn’t want to work hard.
If a member of the staff would rather sit than work, he/she should know that you cannot expect much productivity from them unless and until they decide to put in the effort.
Running after employees takes away time that could be spent working on improving efficiency and accomplishing tasks faster- so this must be done with caution.
Develop your team members
As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest causes of poor team performance is lack of leadership. Without strong leaders that inspire others to follow them, people do not work together to achieve a common goal.
As a leader, you must devote time to developing each member of your team. This could include educating them on what their job responsibilities are, motivating them to perform these tasks, and encouraging them to connect with other staff.
It can be difficult to prioritize this when you’re a leader already running around trying to meet deadlines and keep up with projects, but it needs to be done.
Team effectiveness will improve as you spend time investing in each individual.
Leaders should show how they would like their own life to run — if they took care of themselves, then they would take better care of those under them. They will make sure people get enough sleep, eat well, use good hygiene, etc.
They will set clear expectations and goals for the group, and hold each person accountable for meeting them. When someone does something great, they recognize them or talk about it.
Never assume things will go well! Make sure everyone knows who the weaknesses and liabilities of the rest of the team are, so they can plan accordingly.
Avoid being too friendly with individuals outside of work; maintain professional relationships at all times.
If there is ever an issue that requires confidentiality, agree upon it as soon as possible.
Ensure a positive work environment
A stressful workplace can be frustrating for both individuals and groups of people within your organization.
For employees, stress comes from different sources – workloads, deadlines, challenges, etc. For other members of their team, stress is caused by inconsistencies in communication, lack of trust, or excessive conflict.
In either case, these experiences only have negative effects. When teams are exposed to too much stress, productivity drops, conflicts arise, and collaboration becomes more difficult.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless you want to see results that benefit you. If you’re ready to reap the rewards of teamwork, then it's time to address any underlying issues.
At The Hut Group, we believe that one of the biggest reasons why team effectiveness often falters in organizations is due to poor leadership.
As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest killers of effectiveness in groups is poor communication. If you’re not sure what someone else thinks or feels, then it can be difficult to have productive conversations with them.
The same goes for if they feel like they are constantly having to repeat themselves. They may avoid coming into meetings because they don’t want to deal with all of the silence or distraction that happens around them.
In both cases, people end up quitting rather than investing time in something that isn’t working. This costs your team significant wasted energy and effort which could be put towards more effective strategies.
As group leader, make sure you keep track of how others feel so you can address any issues as soon as possible. Also, use informal conversation modes such as talking while doing an activity together or taking breaks during work to let some steam out.
Avoid formal meeting settings unless there’s no other option due to timing or space constraints.
Build a clear vision of success
Now that you have determined your team’s purpose, it is time to develop an understanding of what needs to happen for success to occur. What things need to be done will vary from organization to organization, but there are some general guidelines that apply no matter who you are or what you do.
As a leader, you should know how much control you want over these guidelines. Some things may not be in your hands, so you must prepare yourself to accept this as part of your job.
You also need to understand that although others may help you achieve your goal, they can never replace the responsibility that comes with leadership. This could include taking credit for the success of the mission or giving up power if someone else has to take the lead.
Your teammates will always have doubts about whether you really care about the project. As hard as it may be to believe now, that perception will eventually change unless you make changes to remove such doubts.