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Jobs are more collaborative and require more teamwork than ever! So how you do build effective and collaborative teams?

Many companies just expect teams to work well together, communicate effectively, and be productive. In most cases, wanting effective teams is not enough to actually have effective teams. Like most goals, building effective teams requires planning, strategy, monitoring, and expectations. Let’s look at some of the key factors for building effective teams.

Ensure Diversity

The most effective teams are diverse teams. One of the benefits to collaboration is the ability to bring in different perspectives, strengths, and experiences. Effective teams have diversity in these areas and members openly discuss their strengths, weaknesses, and differences. These discussions help team members understand one another and make the collaboration process easier. Allow some time for team members to get to know one another and their backgrounds, and they will embrace their diversity more instead of fighting it.

Pick the Right Team Leader

The most successful teams are built on accountability, trust, and commitment to success. Picking the right team leader is essential! Team leads need to lead by example, set clear expectations, support the team, and foster trust amongst team members. A great team can easily fail under the wrong leader, while a great leader can steer virtually any team towards success.

Set Behavioral Expectations

This is so important! Many teams’ expectations are solely focused on outcomes and not onhow those outcomes are derived. Effective teams understand the behavioral expectations as well as the production expectations. Some key behaviors of effective teams are:

  • Members demonstrate support towards their teammates
  • Open communication is encouraged and exhibited
  • Everyone on the team participates and there is no tolerance for a “one-man show”
  • Individual strengths are leveraged, and peers are respected for offering their individual expertise
  • Members do not tolerate disrespect, gossiping, or obstructing teammates abilities to express their opinions
  • Team members expect conflict upon occasion and are committed and trained on resolving their own conflicts
  • Team members encourage questions and challenge ideas, after all, having a diverse thought-pool is one of the biggest benefits of team collaboration
  • Team members understand they are accountable for their behavior and contributions to the project outcomes
  • Members trust their leader and their teammates

It is not enough to assume teams will operate as described above. The behavioral expectations need to be discussed and documented and reviewed throughout teams’ projects as needed.

Have a Defined Purpose

Ensure teams not only understand what the company wants them to do, but also why. Task leadership with educating their teams not only on what they are expected to produce, but why and what value the company expects to gain from their outcomes. The more value the team members see in the work they are doing, the more pride they will take in doing the work, and the better the results.

Monitor for Failures and Respond

Leaders and team members need to recognize the signs of dysfunction and be proactive in ensuring the teams’ functionality. If members of the team are not actively participating, members don’t trust one another, no one is taking accountability or the “blame game” is a regular event at meetings, or if significant conflict is frequently arising, those are signs that the team has an issue. A good leader will see those signs and address them. A poor leader will miss the signs, or even worse, see the signs but do nothing about them. Many leaders only measure the success of a team by the product it produces. However, effective teams are measured by much more. Remember, you are building collaborative and effective teams, not just making sure a widget is assembled!

So, you may be asking, “as long as they get the job done, why do I care how they do it”? There are many reasons, but the shortest answer is employee morale. A low employee morale leads to higher turnover, lower employee loyalty, and higher stress. Creating a healthy work environment is not only a good business practice, but it is an expectation for most employees in today’s workforce. Building effective teams is just one factor that contributes to a healthy work environment.

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