Your people are your business
Your team and team leverage are your business, quite literally. They are only as good as the weakest link and your ability to provide strong and effective leadership.
You, as a business leader, must be a talent hound for future hiring, be a strong mentor and coach for people development, continually work to build your leadership skills, and build and maintain a staff that collaborates effectively as a team.
More often than not, effective teamwork is built on the following characteristics:
Sometimes, organizations are in such a hurry to move on their projects that they pull together groups of people without first deciding on the goals and desired outcomes.
In his book, Team Renaissance: The Art, Science and Politics of Great Teams (Old Man River Publishing, 2013), Richard Spoon explains that without a clear sense of what the team needs to accomplish and how a successful outcome will be defined, it’s impossible to assemble the right group of people to get there.
So decide on team goals and desired outcomes first. Use it for clear direction for the team you select. Start at the end point: What is the outcome you want and why? Leave the team flexibility to develop the best way to get there.
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Team leverage … open and honest communication
Communication is the close brother of chemistry. In any team, communication is crucial to building a sense of camaraderie between members. The manner of communication — how freely and frequently team members communicate —determines the effectiveness of the team.
Put simply, the more freely you talk to your fellow team members, the more comfortable you are in sharing insights and ideas. This is just one major reason why modern businesses emphasize communication and collaboration tools.
The most important part of communication is listening. Listening is not just a way to find things out. It’s also a sign of respect. So send the message that your conversation partner is valuable. Listen like you mean it. Demonstrate that you’re listening. Paraphrase, re-state, nd react to what you hear. Ask for clarification. Get involved.
Support risk taking and change
Good teams support appropriate risk taking and experimentation for change. They look on first time mistakes as opportunities for learning.
Roles might shift somewhat once the team is assembled, but understand the skill sets and thinking styles are needed on the team. If a team needs to develop a new product for market, that team will need a detail-oriented person (the task-master), who is methodical and can keep the team on track.
The explorer will be more of a big-picture thinker who can help the team see what is possible. The number-cruncher will take charge of measurement and metrics. It’s possible your team will have other roles to fill, but you should have a good handle on those roles before you begin staffing.
Once you have a plan for those basics, begin choosing the strongest team members to carry out the project.
Teams accept responsibility as individuals and as a team. They don’t blame one another for team mistakes and failures. No one should spend any time, useless time, in personal justifications.
They should celebrate their successes together and recognize special performances and contributions that each team member makes to the total work of the team.
Encourage differences in opinions
Agreeing on a common goal is essential. But it shouldn’t come at the cost of suppressing alternative ideas and opinions. Having divergent opinions within a team enhances team performance; a diverse team is its competitive advantage.
Diverse opinions stir imagination and new ideas. Imagination and new ideas stir creativity. Unless the status quo is threatened and questioned, you won’t find those crucial “out of the box” ideas.
Close collaboration is a trait shared by every successful team, whether it be the Apple leadership team or Lennon-McCartney of the Beatles fame or Jordan-Pippen of the Chicago Bulls fame.
The idea is simple enough: the more you collaborate and the more you communicate, the more you create.
Team members who cannot trust one other or who don’t believe in the process and goals of the team seldom find success. Effective teams focus on solving problems.
Trust is an adjunct of effective communication; there can be trust between team members only if they are allowed to air their views freely. This is the reason why organizations often undertake team-building exercises that put team members in positions of trust.
Across industries, building an effective team is a process, not a destination. A great team is like an organic being, continually growing and changing to adapt as situations and challenges arise. Remember … teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success.
Digital Spark Marketing offers workshops and useful blogs in all of these areas.
You can learn more about Mike here:
Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he consults on and writes about topics to help improve the performance of small business. Find him on G+, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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