In business, it is not enough to put a team together. It must be able to function as a team and accomplish its goals. Without this, a team is just a group of people who occupy the same general piece of real estate. For a team to achieve it potential, its members must learn to grow as individuals and as a team in ways that increase overall effectiveness.
Members of a team must learn each others strengths and weaknesses.
Each member of a well-assembled team needs to have strengths that meet the needs of the group. Those within the team must learn to let those who are best at a particular task do that task. In the same way, if a member is known to be weak in some areas, an effective team learns to compensate in that area. By letting members function in their respective areas of strength most of the time, a team’s ability to fulfill its needs should be maximized.
An effective team must learn from its mistakes.
Just like individuals, a team must view mistakes as opportunities for growth. Whether a mistake is made by the group or an individual, the team must take ownership of the error and find a way to not repeat it going forward. If an individual was responsible for the problem, an evaluation must be made as to whether it is a personal area of weakness in the person, a communications problem within the group, or a flaw elsewhere in the team dynamic.
If the team member has a weakness exposed by the mistake, either additional training may be necessary or someone else in the group needs to find a way to assist in that area in the future. Communications problems must be worked out to keep it from being a problem on the next step. If the team was not functioning as a team and cause a member to err, the dynamic needs to be repaired.
If it is found to be a group problem, an analysis of the failure to execute properly needs to be performed.
It may turn out to be that members did not yet understand the importance of a particular operation to an ongoing project. Sometimes, the group may get steps out of order because each member knows the task, but the sequence has not yet been learned properly. It may require that several team members take on new tasks to increase effectiveness.
Team members should be cross-trained to understand each others jobs.
Many times a team does not function at its peak performance because the members do not know how to best pass the work to other members. Until a team member knows what the next person will do with the materials that is passed along, it can be difficult to give each team member all that is needed for the best outcome. When each member understands at the minimum what the person needs to receive from him or her, it makes the transition time on the team much smoother. Eventually, it is beneficial to have each member of a team know what every other member does and how to do it. This way, if a person on the team becomes ill or leaves the team, it can continue to function at a high level.
Ongoing specialized training for individuals within the group encourages effectiveness.
Professional people have chosen their respective career paths because they want to work in a specific field. Continuing education is important to keep team members abreast of the latest developments. By sending team members to seminars and workshops that teach and inform in their areas of expertise, the group members will see themselves as important to the continuing operation of the group. When people feel validated, they tend to perform better. Continuing education implies to each team member that the company or supervisor regards them as important to the team and company.
Allow team members to see a pathway to greater leadership roles.
Many team members are motivated by the prospect that they may some day lead their own team. To encourage these members to grow, a wise leader will offer some leadership opportunities to them. Leading a committee or a small project can give valuable training to the team member and offer the supervisor a chance to evaluate and improve the person’s leadership skills. Also, by promoting members to permanent leadership positions, new members can see the career path to management and will work more effectively to gain a future chance to move upward.
Give each member of the team a real chance to change the direction of the team.
Teams become more effective when the members feel responsible for the actions of the team as a whole. By allowing the team members input on team decisions and directions, they will begin to feel a sense of ownership. They will see their respective place on the team as important and influential. This will normally cause individuals to work to improve the outcome of various projects and tasks because of the sense that it is their idea or plan. The feeling that failure will reflect back on the individual will enhance their performance and the team’s effectiveness.