The saying, ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ can directly apply to teams and lead to their success, but only if leaders take careful management steps. Here are a number of surprising methods you can lean on to ensure team success.
Use individuals’ natural skills and talents to the team’s advantage
A team will likely bring together a group of people with different strengths and weaknesses. What might come easy to one person might be very difficult for another. As opposed to insisting that everyone does the same thing or assigning tasks at random, give people roles that they will excel at with ease.
One of the ways to discover peoples’ natural aptitudes is by giving team members personality tests like the Myer Briggs assessment which reveal weaknesses and strengths and also shed light on how people interact. Although some criticise the tests for relying on the premise that certain traits are in born, they can be a first step for team members to carry out self-exploration.
Once strengths have been realised, they should be nurtured and developed to help the team achieve its objectives. The results can also act as a guide in pairing different team members to maximise a given skill or balance weaknesses.
Establish team values and goals
It is important for all employees to know the values and goals of an organisation, it guides their efforts and improves efficiency. But to ensure team success, leaders should facilitate the formation of team values and goals.
These will guide the team in the execution of wider company goals. For smaller teams, it is possible to include input from every single member.
To arrive at goals, ask what success looks like to team members and what they care about. In the process of determining values, look at great companies for inspiration.
These team values can also be personal, taking into account members’ own objectives. This can be a powerful tool for motivation as the success becomes multi-level. ‘When I succeed, the team succeeds, the organisation succeeds.’
Delegate problem solving to the team
Let teams work together to solve problems. Encourage everyone to share ideas and for the team members to evaluate each of these ideas, looking at its strengths and weaknesses. In this process, hybrid ideas that might be better will arise.
This process might get heated but it will teach team members how to work better with different personalities. In the start, it is helpful for a supervisor or manager to be present to ensure no one’s ideas are trampled on or dismissed and that dominant personalities are taught to give room for others to be heard. In time, everyone should learn how to work together to ensure team success.
Don’t take team friendships for granted
While team members needn’t be best friends, a degree of camaraderie is necessary to ensure team success. Team members who are friends are more tolerant of one another’s short comings and are likely to cheer each other on and even pitch in to help to make their workloads lighter.
Encourage team members to be vulnerable with each other at work in order to strengthen team bonds. This can include sharing when they are struggling and being open to say they don’t know something when they don’t.
Some people will inevitably become closer than others but keep a close eye to ensure that no cliques form and that no one is left out. According to Brene Brown, this kind of vulnerability at work can be good for productivity and performance.
Team building is even more critical with the increase in remote work. In a survey conducted to assess how employees were feeling towards workplace culture while working remotely, about 46% reported that collaboration with colleagues had become harder.
Successful teams play together
Swap some of the structured and curated team building activities for good old play. Playing together is fun and is a good way to interact with no pressure and no serious targets to be met. Playing is also a good way to work on soft skills.
While businesses invest in trainings to equip employees with technical skills, the soft skills like listening, persuasion, interpersonal skills, creativity are often ignored. They can however be exhibited in a board game. Playing together is also a good way to de stress together.
Balance between being hands on and being hands off
Hands off management relies a great deal on autonomy. Autonomy is a cornerstone of successful workplace relationships. Employees and team members who choose their schedules and where they work from report higher levels of job satisfaction.
Hands off managers leave a lot of the responsibility to team leaders and the team members themselves. This can produce positive results but it can also be detrimental when there is no one to course correct until it is too late.
Being hands on (not micromanaging) means the leader is more involved in the day to day activities of the team. Different teams respond differently to these management styles and to ensure the success of the team, bosses will have to carefully calibrate their style.
Aim for more diversity
To ensure team success, pay attention to the member composition. A team with people from the same background or gender will likely bring similar ideas to the table. On the other hand, a diverse team is rich with experiences and perspectives that will impact the work the team is engaged in.
These different viewpoints will create room for members to dialogue and ask questions, widen their own knowledge and hopefully arrive at solutions that benefit more people. Diversity should, among others, include educational backgrounds and age.
A team consists of unique individuals who come together to create something bigger than themselves. To support the success of that team, leaders should ensure the team has a common goal to believe in, they should encourage unity and also support the team members in building their skills and accomplishing their tasks.