Successful businesses understand the value of building an effective team. But the contributing factors to what makes a good team are often hard to define, and strategies for building a good team can be even harder to grasp. In this piece, we will discuss:
Having a good team of employees affects every aspect of a company. You can hire candidates with the necessary skillset and knowledge for a role, but even the most intelligent individuals become poor employees when they remain an individual and do not buy into the team as a whole.
A good team brings individuals together to work towards the organization’s collective goals productively and efficiently. Working in a group, sharing knowledge and ideas, and understanding how different employees perform (strengths, weaknesses, etc.) leads to innovation, greater efficiency, and more profit.
Building a good team requires team players. Therefore, employees who naturally work well and collaborate with others are highly sought after in the job market. Analysis from LinkedIn found teamwork is the third most in-demand soft skill for employers.
Building a good team will look different for every company and depend on many factors, including culture, industry, size, structure, goals, and more.
While designing a good team and encouraging effective collaboration can take significant effort, the outcomes are worth it. Some of the benefits of a good team include:
While every team is different, there are common traits regularly found among successful ones. Below is a list of characteristics effective teams focus on.
Perhaps the most crucial characteristic of a good team is communication. This can come in multiple forms:
It is important to remember that communication is a two-way process. It is as much about listening as it is talking. Therefore, organizations looking to improve their communication skills should develop their listening capability and become more aware of their employees’ needs and concerns.
Surveys of large companies (100,000 employees or more) have shown an average loss of $62.4 million per year due to inadequate team communication.
For staff to work well together, they have to respect and trust each other. Even strong communication channels fail when employees don’t respect the source of information. Healthy respect between employees leads to:
Whether it is someone’s past accomplishments or proving their abilities through working together, respect grows with time.
Leadership can generate a respectful work culture and define how they expect employees to treat people, sometimes referred to as “owed respect.” But to build a truly successful team, employees also have to develop respect for one another through experience, known as “earned respect.”
Research shows striking the right balance between these two types of respect is key to healthy team dynamics. For example, workplaces with high owed respect and little earned respect reduce individual achievements and treat everyone equally regardless of job performance.
In contrast, workplaces that emphasize earned respect improve motivation but risk producing toxic competitiveness.
In general, the importance of respect in the workplace cannot be understated. For example, a survey of 20,000 employees worldwide performed by Georgetown University found respect to be the most valued leadership behavior.
Diversity in the workplace, particularly in leadership, is an essential step toward a fairer society. In addition, it also makes business sense.
Good teams are composed of a wide range of perspectives and varying skill sets. This is helped by considering diversity and building a team of people from various cultures, age groups, backgrounds, and beliefs.
Diversity and appropriate team composition increase creativity and problem-solving to create the best team possible, generate the most value from a product, and create an inclusive, welcoming work environment.
Building a team with a lack of diversity leads to a closed-minded approach to business. When all team members have similar lived experiences, they can struggle to understand the whole picture when it comes to a product or a particular way of working.
A report from McKinsey, analyzing more than 1,000 large companies from 15 countries over five years, shows a strong business case for both gender diversity and ethnic/cultural diversity in corporate leadership. They found that companies in the top quartile for gender and ethnic/cultural diversity on executive teams outperformed those in the bottom quartile.
A team committed to their work and motivated to perform well offers a range of benefits to an organization, including increased job performance and productivity and decreased employee turnover and absenteeism.
Generating commitment requires shared goals that genuinely matter to employees. This could be because they value the outcome, have a shared vision with leadership, or are incentivized (financial reward/bonus, career progression, etc.).
Employee commitment is closely related to motivation, enthusiasm, and engagement. Committed employees are highly motivated, enthusiastic, and actively engaged with their work.
While good teams strive for commitment, it is vital to consider the underlying reasons behind an employee’s mindset. Not all commitment is equal when it comes to team performance. To better characterize organizational commitment, Allen & Meyer developed a three-component model:
Affective commitment means the employee wants to stay at an organization. They are satisfied with their role, feel valued, and share the organization’s goals. Generally speaking, employees that are affectively committed are significant assets when building a good team.
Normative commitment means employees remain at an organization, fearing the consequences or guilt of leaving. This could be due to its effect on their co-workers (i.e., creating a knowledge gap and increasing pressure on others). Normative commitment produces emotions that can negatively influence job performance and can become detrimental to organizations looking to build a successful team.
Continuance commitment refers to employees that remain at an organization because they have to. This could be due to financial reasons or a lack of alternative opportunities. Continuance commitment can lead to dissatisfied employees remaining at an organization as they cannot find better remuneration elsewhere. In addition, this form of commitment can hinder team building, with employees feeling forced to remain at an organization often getting in the way of potentially affectively committed replacements.
A group of talented individuals struggles to form an effective team without strong leadership. Someone has to be in charge in order to define team goals, communicate strategy, provide motivation, organize everyone, and find ways to get the most out of each employee.
Leadership sets the tone for how staff communicates with one another, how they operate and meet deadlines and the overall dynamics between team members. Influential leaders are respected, trusted, and confident in their abilities while also being good listeners who can continuously give and receive constructive feedback. They can evaluate and develop talent and understand what employees are capable of, often when they don’t know themselves.
There are many different management and leadership styles that foster collaboration and produce successful teams.
Below is a list of steps that can help build a good team. These steps are not a one-size-fits-all approach to team building. Think of them instead as a general introduction with tips for getting started.
Psychological safety is a critical factor related to how an individual perceives the wider team and their place within it. It refers to employees feeling secure in their role such that they are confident in offering new ideas, raising concerns, making mistakes, and speaking candidly without negative consequences (punishment, humiliation, etc.).
When employees feel safe, they are free to maximize their potential, take smart risks, and express their opinions without fear of judgment or embarrassment. Psychological safety means employees can be their authentic selves. They feel valued and respected enough to always be honest, safe in the knowledge their insights are welcome.
Organizations can help create psychological safety in multiple ways:
Employees that are part of good teams depend on each other. They trust their teammates will always try their best in a given situation and look to help each other out, relieving stress when schedules become hectic.
When staff trusts each other, they no longer have to check each other’s work. Instead, they assume team members will respond correctly depending on the circumstances presented to them and produce high-quality work on time.
While respect can be generated between strangers due to past accomplishments or personal testimony, trust is generally earned through experience. It takes time to build up, with team members getting to know each other, working together, and sharing successes. Trust is also an essential component of creating psychological safety within a team.
Tips for building trust between team members include:
A team of diverse individuals that can execute a range of jobs, collaborate effectively, and maximize collective performance goes a long way to ensuring success. This means gathering people from different backgrounds with differing experiences, skillsets, and knowledge to provide fresh perspectives on the team’s work and how best to perform it.
For example, you shouldn’t have a team composed of only middle-aged white males who see the product from a similar point of view and fail to grasp how other people may interact with it.
Research has shown diverse teams are more likely to remain objective, focusing on facts and making fewer factual errors. Breaking up homogenous groups in the workplace can also make employees more aware of their own internal biases.
To ensure diversity and appropriate team composition, organizations should:
Good teams require realistic goals defining expected outputs. The team also needs an accompanying strategy and a clear organizational structure to achieve these goals and show the chain of command and communication channels.
When employees know the team’s vision, they can develop ideas to best perform their part of the broader mission. Often the employees closest to the work know the optimal approach to reach the desired outcomes. Empowering employees to innovate the path to a defined goal can become a great motivation tool.
An organization can help build a successful team with clear goals by:
Good teams need leaders who can create meaning in work even when it is not immediately apparent to employees. A sense of purpose and meaning generates team engagement improving work ethic and performance.
Leadership can help employees find a sense of purpose through:
Employee development is vital for effective teams. Even highly motivated employees can stagnate after repeating the same work again and again. They can begin to feel stuck in their career progression.
Developing employees add new skills to the team, helping improve performance, generating motivation, and showing employees a future career path.
While a good team is a great starting point, you can always build on success. Employee development can take the team further by learning valuable skills that open new growth opportunities or increase productivity.
Tips for encouraging employee development include:
If you want to discover how our company encourage employees to learn, you might find interesting How Valamis Supports and Encourages Employees to Learn
To build a successful team, you have to understand each team member and how they behave, interact, and perform their roles. By managing and monitoring performance, leadership can identify issues early, spot talented employees capable of more, find operational improvements, and more.
Employee monitoring has come a long way, with a range of approaches for management to consider: