How to build effective teams
How do you set a team up for success? Arranging Christmas parties, days out or even Zoom quizzes provides team members with a much-needed opportunity to have fun and socialise with their colleagues. However, it has been suggested that these activities are unlikely to improve team effectiveness in the long term*.
According to research, successful team building strategies should involve the following techniques:
Setting Goals – Clear, measurable and specific team goals have been found to improve team performance* as well as individual motivation and commitment**. These shared goals encourage teams to focus on the similarities between members and what they are trying to achieve**. However, it is also helpful to continue setting goals at an individual level to remind people of the value of personal contributions**. For example, many assessments, such as the Hardiness Resilience Gauge and the EQ-i 2.0, can be used to identify developmental areas and strategies for both individuals and for teams.
Supporting Relationships – Strong interpersonal relationships facilitate collaboration, support and conflict management between team members**. One way to develop these relationships within a team is to build trust**. Increasing trust between colleagues contributes to team coordination and performance because individuals are willing to be vulnerable* and share their knowledge and expertise with others**. Another way to develop supportive social connections is to focus on a team’s emotional intelligence skills, such as empathy.
Specifying Roles – Establishing clear roles improves team effectiveness and helps clarify the responsibilities of each member of the group*. As a team it can be useful to discuss who is accountable for which tasks and when different members of the team need to be informed or consulted*. However, it is also important to consider the unwritten rules and expectations of a team and make them explicit***. For example, everyone knows who is working on the upcoming project, but does everyone know they are expected to work overtime to reach the deadline?
Solving Problems – Identifying and solving challenging problems with colleagues can improve work engagement and employee motivation****. It helps to build the team by providing a structure for members to work together and pool their resources and ideas*. Tackling problems as a group can also improve decision-making processes* by highlighting the benefit of different decision-making styles, such as collaborating and teaming.
So, if you want to build an effective team, consider switching from the icebreakers and coffee mornings and try these team strategies instead.
*Lacerenza, C. N., Marlow, S. L., Tannenbaum, S. I., & Salas, E. (2018). Team development interventions: Evidence-based approaches for improving teamwork. American Psychologist, 73(4), 517-531.
**Mickan, S., & Rodger, S. (2000). Characteristics of effective teams: A literature review. Australian Health Review, 23(3), 201-208.
***Fosslien, L., & West Duffy, M. (2020, October 26). Write down your team’s unwritten rules. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2020/10/write-down-your-teams-unwritten-rules
****McGregor, L., & Doshi, N. (2020, April 9). How to keep your team motivated, remotely. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2020/04/how-to-keep-your-team-motivated-remotely