Is your company launching a new product soon? Perhaps you plan to start offering a new service and need to determine how to make it appeal to current and new clients. Maybe you're merging businesses and need to ensure the operation goes smoothly. Regardless of what big tasks your company has in the pipeline, one thing is certain: working with a great team is rather productive.
The problem is that as an employer you need to know how to go about building a team effectively. Understanding the purpose of teams, the importance of creating them, and the various types are only part of the equation. You must also know how to find the right people to help you build strong, successful, and effective teams.
What Is the Purpose of a Team?
If you're new to the idea of creating specific teams, you might be wondering why it's a better idea than simply delegating tasks to specific employees. Teams have several purposes.
First, they increase participation. Creating teams gives a chance to get to know each other better and to learn to work together to be more productive.
Teams also increase support, make it easier to implement big changes within a business, and help with problem-solving and decision-making needs. Some studies also show that people who work in teams work better because they want to earn the respect of their co-workers at performance evaluations.
Why Is It Important To Build a Strong Team?
Creating teams to work on big projects is essential for several reasons. Most importantly, it builds trust. When people work closely together, they know that they can rely on each other to help with solving problems or creating better products or services. Working in teams also makes it easier to communicate and be productive.
Working together in real-time means there are fewer delays while you wait for answers from supervisors or other co-workers. People are also more productive in teams because the work is divided more evenly. Additionally, if one person finishes before others, he or she can assist co-workers with their tasks. Finally, teams foster creativity, learning, and a healthy dose of competition.
What Types of Teams Are There?
One of the most common types of team that people create in the workplace is the project team. Project teams are people who come together to take on one specific task, such as launching a new product or revamping a service the company already provides. They may also come together for certain events, such as holiday sales. There are several other types of teams as well, though.
- Operational Teams – This type of team is meant to support other teams within the business. It helps to ensure they are more efficient while carrying out their responsibilities and help teams to complete projects on time.
- Leadership Teams – As a leader, you may form a team with other leaders. Created by supervisors of various departments, leadership teams work together to ensure work strategies are productive across the board.
- Informal Teams – Informal teams are created organically among employees. They do not have team leads and often include groups of "work friends" who have similar interests both inside and outside of work and collaborate well together.
11 Essential Tips for Building a Strong Team
A team is only as good as its leader. This means that you need to go above and beyond to show your team that you are a worthy leader. Use these tips to help you build a strong group of people who are the most likely to achieve success.
1. Set Clear Expectations
The key to building a strong team is setting a clear purpose and defining attainable goals. After all, a team needs to have direction if it is to be successful. First, determine what the expected outcome of the team's project or projects will be. Are you creating a new product or improving an existing one? Are you changing the services your company provides? Has a big new client requested a dedicated team?
Consider, too, what each team member will do on the job. A clear purpose for each person helps to ensure that every part of the job is covered rather than multiple team members working on one section of the project while other parts of the project are ignored. As you give team members their tasks, ensure that each one has one long-term goal as well as several smaller ones that will help them to achieve the bigger picture. Small, manageable tasks with schedules and solid deadlines will help to keep the entire team on track.
2. Foster a Strong Company Culture
The behavior of your company as a whole factors into how well your teams work together toward the big picture. Companies that offer little in the way of benefits or extending grace to their employees are seeing declines in the number of people who are willing to work for them at all.
Strong company culture should show that you care about your talent more than profits. When you value your employees as people who have lives outside of work, you improve employee morale and are more likely to have successful team projects. Focus on a team-based culture that values your employees at all levels, whether they are new hires, team leaders, store managers, or more.
Beyond employees, consider the image you project to the rest of the world as well. Productive employees want to work for businesses that care about the community. Cultivate a strong team by providing community services, participating in community events, and showing that you care for the people you serve.
3. Create Plans With the Team
If you want to be successful, it is better to let your team help you create the plans than to plan alone and give orders. When your team is an integral part of the entire process, they more easily understand the assignments and are likely to be more productive. When planning together, it is important to have a central location to do so. Unfortunately, it can be hard for everyone to find the time to meet in person, especially if they are working on more than one project. Luckily, technology has made it easier to meet in real-time without being physically together.
Software programs such as Trello, LiquidPlanner, and a range of others allow you to manage schedules, create reports, store documents, communicate simultaneously, track progress, and much more. There are a variety of free and paid options, so be sure to research and find the best one for your team before it's time to start the project.
4. Be a Good Team Leader
A strong team needs a strong leader. If you aren't used to leading a team, or if your leadership skills are a bit rusty, refine them before you start putting your team together. Remember, a strong leader doesn't just give orders but learns to communicate and to anticipate the team's needs for the duration of a project.
Situational awareness is important because you can anticipate problems and find solutions before they occur. Keep in mind, too, that a good leader sets by example. Staying on top of your own tasks, communicating well, and admitting any mistakes you make will show your team that you aren't just the leader for the "power" and may even inspire them to do better themselves.
5. Build Strong Communication
Communication is one of the most important keys to teamwork. If your team members don't feel comfortable coming to you with comments or concerns, how will you be successful? Create an open-door policy and always be transparent about what the team is doing, what you expect of its members, and what the outcome should be. If something changes, tell your team members as soon as possible. If you can, literally keep your office door open and allow your team to come and talk to you whenever necessary.
Even if your schedule is too busy to talk to someone right away, set aside a specific time block each day where you catch up with team members, communicate how the day went, and set a to-do list for the next day. It is also a good idea to keep in contact via email or chat platforms throughout the day, especially if there may be something that requires your immediate attention.
6. Listen to the Feedback You Receive
Excellent communication means nothing if you and your team members aren't listening to feedback and making changes as necessary. Whether daily, weekly, monthly, or all three, it is important to provide your team with feedback. Start with the positives. What is your team doing right? Have clients given them compliments? Have you noticed them crushing it in one particular area of work? After providing positive feedback, move into constructive criticism. Focus on using "we" statements to avoid making members feel singled out. Talk about what you hope to see improve before the next feedback meeting.
Remember, feedback goes both ways. Allow your team to provide feedback to you as well, and consider allowing them to do so anonymously if you fear they won't be honest otherwise. If your team says something isn't working for them, and especially if you receive the same feedback more than once, consider how you can make a positive change. Doing so may help the entire group to be more productive. At the very least, they will feel heard, which is likely to boost morale.
7. Learn How To Be Flexible
Flexibility is essential on any team. First, your team members are going to need you to be flexible. No two people learn exactly alike, so you must be willing to convey information in several ways. Perhaps some of your team remembers information better when you speak it aloud but others need text to refer back to. Maybe one member can follow step-by-step text instructions but another needs to see things as they happen. Being willing to communicate verbally, provide updates via email, and create videos or provide other types of hands-on training is essential for success.
It isn't only your team members that you must worry about, either. Clients may change their minds about your products or services on a whim, asking for customizations that you can handle but only with some of that aforementioned flexibility. Then, you must consider unexpected situations. Perhaps the computers at work have gone down. What can the team do to stay focused on the task, even if they can't work on it in real-time? Maybe there's a snowstorm. Can your team work remotely? Flexibility throughout a project will help you to have a successful one.
8. Choose the Right Team Members for the Job
Part of assembling a good team is ensuring you choose the best candidates for the job. Ideally, the people you choose will already be excellent at both written and oral communication. Organization skills are important as well. Is the work your employees turn in well-structured and on time? Good team members are also resourceful, committed to the job, and already possess the job skills you're looking for. Consider the scope of the job as well. If your team will work face to face with clients, a person who is used to working behind the scenes may not be as good a fit as a person with experience.
9. Host Team-Building Exercises
Nobody likes going around a circle and telling everyone a bit about themselves, but that doesn't mean that team-building exercises aren't important. Fun exercises help the team get to know each other and feel more at ease, and they can be an excellent way to take a break from the work at hand and "reset" the brain.
10. Show Your Team Members That You Value Them
The key to a good team is to show the members that you value them as people. Throwing a pizza party once in a while is fine, but your employees need more than that. Sending a quick thank-you email, ensuring your team is paid a fair wage, and providing a wide variety of benefits options are essential for ensuring your team remains committed to the project.
Another way to show that you value your team is to make sure the working environment is comfortable. Remember, the happier you make your employees, the more likely they are to be productive.
11. Celebrate the Success of the Team
When your team is successful, celebrate with them before moving on to the next project. At a minimum, buy the team lunch or dinner and show your appreciation. As the budget allows, reward them with bonuses, high-value prizes, or other big-ticket items that show you value their work, are proud of their success, and want to continue to build a strong company together. Consider giving bonus paid time off and expressing your gratitude for their hard work on social media as well.
Now that you know why creating a team is so important and how to build a strong one, it's time to get started. Create a list of who you think may be a good fit for your team project and why. Once you have a list in place and have clear expectations of the project, you can begin creating your team and increasing productivity. Need more members? Contact a staffing agency for help!
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