The term “teamwork” is so overused that it has all but lost its meaning. In your organization the word team may describe the entire company, self-selecting groups of individuals, or subsets of key individuals who have been identified to solve specific problems.
Here’s how to sift through all of the clichés and aphorisms to focus in on what will actually make our teams successful.
The Exceptional Team Member
In order to be considered team-oriented, members must meet the following personal criteria:
–Open, willing to stretch and ask the tough questions
–Supportive of teammates, putting the good of the team ahead of any personal agenda
–Active in the team, and in moving towards stated team goals
–Positive, offering a can-do attitude.
It is said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For successful teams, having highly competent individual team members is simply not enough. Strong positive relationships are essential to the success of the team.
What does “positive” mean here? It means win-win relationships where team members feel that they are being heard and listened to. All team members must be willing to make adjustments that will build the relationship.The two-lane exchange of feedback is essential.Given and received constructively, feedback allows a team to modify its path before getting the process too far off track. That means checking your ego at the door and listening effectively.
Most teams are put in place to solve problems or achieve goals of one sort or another, and problem solving in a team environment requires some additional competencies and personal abilities. We know that problem solving is made up of critical thinking skills, data gathering, analyzing, and using your judgment to weigh alternatives and risks – however when we transition to a team environment we’ve got even more considerations. Here are a few more key skills for effective problem solving in a team environment:
-Willingness to change processes that aren’t working
We Need Leaders!
Regardless of the quality of the individual members, the relationships among members, and the ability of the members to work as a team to solve problems, the group must have an effective leader who allows team members to do their job and encourages the positive behavior necessary for the team to accomplish its goals. Here are the qualities the leaders must embrace:
·Ability to focus on the goal. The team leader holds the vision and ensures that the team is focused correctly on the goal at hand.
·Supports the collaborative environment. The team leader makes sure that team members know the expectation that they will function as a collaborative unit. When they are ready to work toward the goal at hand, the leader supports the process for the good of the group as a whole and the organization.
·Instills confidence. The effective team leader is successful at instilling confidence among team members. Remembering to accentuate the positive, the effective team leader gets the most out of each team member.
·Is also an effective team member. The team leader should demonstrate the characteristics of a successful team member and should be knowledgeable of the content of the job.
·Leads. Simply stated, the effective team leader is able to set the priorities for the team and keep the team on task.
·Manages performance. Effective leaders must challenge members who are not contributing their fair share and be empowered to handle the behavior for the good of the team and the goal.
“Teamwork is so important that it is virtually impossible for you to reach the heights of your capabilities or make the money that you want without becoming very good at it.” ~Brian Tracy