The word “team” is so commonly used in today’s organisations that most leaders are oblivious to its true meaning. Here are some of prime characteristics a group must have, to be considered a real team, and to maximise its potential:
- A meaningful and common purpose. This is more than an outside mandate from the top of the organisation. To be successful, the team must identify, develop and own its purpose.
- Adaptable skills. Diverse capabilities are important. This means people with differing skills and abilities contribute those differences to combine into activities that benefit the whole. Effective teams rarely have all the skills they need at the outset. They develop them as they learn what their challenge requires.
- Mutual accountability. You can’t force trust and commitment. Agreeing on the team’s goals is the first moment at which team members forge their accountability to one another. Continuing to build accountabilities and delivering on them builds the trust account.
- Agreement on the game they are playing. Every team sport necessitates an understanding of the rules that the game is played under and the position each member must play. Work is also a team sport, which requires the understanding of the game and abiding by the rules of that game, else conflict and chaos will result. Does each person know their position in the game and what is expected of them? Are the rules clear in your team?
- Trust. This is developed over time, with recognition, respect and reliability of interactions, team members can grow trust. Trust is rarely at play to start as members come from different contexts and experience. Leaders must extend respect and trust and role model it to help the team build it. Expect to win trust and play to win it.
- Collaboration. Teams become teams when they see how collaboration aids their personal success. Leveraging other’s talents and capabilities is how this happens and comes about when individuals in the team respect other peoples’ skills and put them to work for their collective benefit.
- Enjoyment. If a group of people can’t generate enjoyment and esprit de corp, then they can’t be a team. Work which is too hard will break down team spirit, so the collective engagements between members must be enjoyable and fun. Recognise the achievement of milestones, celebrate the team’s efforts and reward the whole team for achievements. Plan to play, have fun and generate enjoyment to sustain longevity in a team
7 June 2015