Advance on Teamwork
What does it take to build an effective team?
Be on time and ready to contribute
We've studied thousands of teams and the results are clear: While team meetings are a valuable resource, the biggest complaint is that when a team member arrives late or unprepared, productivity suffers.
To get the most out of team meetings, you should:
- Arrive on time, knowing what topics will be discussed.
- Have an opinion before you arrive, while still being open to others' ideas.
- Deliver on your commitments, or let people know in advance when that won’t happen.
Demonstrate success through small wins
People often hope to get noticed by making outsized contributions. Similarly, new teams tend to compress too much work into their available time. Both behaviors can cause confusion and conflict, and may push some members to the sidelines.
To build credibility and trust, individuals and teams should:
- Set and meet interim goals.
- Routinely deliver on their commitments.
- Celebrate successes along the way.
Play to everyone's strengths
Trying to be excellent in all things diminishes opportunities for others to develop and demonstrate their own strengths. Such behavior stifles trust.
To engage all team members equally, leaders should:
- Know each person’s talents and find ways to leverage those abilities.
- Build a team of people with diverse and complementary strengths.
- Allow everyone a chance to shine.
Get to know each other outside of project work
Looking back on failed projects, some team members say they did not share expectations about how they should work together.
To build a foundation of trust, teams should:
- Take time at the outset to get to know each individual on the team.
- Understand the motivations and strengths of each team member.
- Create an environment where all ideas are welcome and members are willing to be vulnerable with each another.
Use a project plan to achieve success
To align the team on the project, members should first:
Clearly define the problem to be solved or the opportunity to address.
Agree on what success looks like.
Outline the tasks, timeline and roles and responsibilities for completing them.
Have honest conversations
An ideal team continues to learn throughout their project’s lifecycle. But often the momentum stays with an initial, mediocre solution even when a better idea is discovered.
To remain nimble and responsive to new ideas, teams should:
- Ask many questions rather than offer up early answers.
- Encourage all members to contribute.
- Embrace disagreement and open discussion.