Keeping A Good Team Together
The cornerstone of any successful company is the team that makes it up. There is no other more important contributing factor to building a truly great organization.
Effective development methods, the right technology, efficient
processes, available money and well-invested time are all important aspects, but
none can substitute for the importance of an exceptional team if you want to
establish an exceptional organization.
Keeping a team of talented individuals who work together well is one of the top challenges for executives these days - ranking right up there with hiring successfully and then firing.
Keeping your team together as your company's core
foundation stone is key to each individual's success—and most importantly, and
obviously, to your company's success.
Now, having talented people on your team is essential, but building a close knit and productive team is even more so. Obviously, each organization is different, so there is no 'one size fits all' solution for how to do this, however, keeping your team together, focused, and motivated is probably the single most important activity you as leader can devote your time to. Take a look at the following ideas for building an exceptional and productive team:
1. Hire right in the first place. Don't hire someone if they don't meet your company needs or the bar you've set for your team. When you have trouble finding good people who fit your organization, it is extremely tempting to lower the bar and compromise your standards; however it's essential to remember that adding the wrong person to your team could actually lower productivity and morale. You need to hire people who a) want to be part of a team, b) don't need to be in the lime light all the time themselves, c) are interested in the greater good of the organization - sometimes that means above and beyond their own needs and d) have not only the requisite skills to do their job well but the desire to learn from others and see how their piece can become a profitable part of the whole.
2. Clearly define the goals and objectives, for the individuals, the company and the team. Often company leaders have goals for the organization itself, and for the individuals in the company, but miss an important mark by not having team goals. This strategy tends to stress the value of individuals players working on their own individual objectives, rather than encouraging a team approach to resolving challenges and finding innovative solutions. You need to have collaborative goals for your team. Team goals can be developed by the team or by the leadership, but the team needs to buy into them and agree to them. Share the goals and objectives with all team members, often.
3. Heed the simple solution of open and frequent communication. Very often, the cause of teamwork breakdown is communication - people not sharing how they feel, not being forthright about their challenges or problems with other team members. People tend to talk to everyone about an issue except the person with whom they are experiencing a challenge. One thing I often recommend to my clients is to open their team meetings with time for each person to vent, express their unhappiness, express their happiness, congratulate other team members or make whatever comment they wish - but simple make clear time and opportunity for discussion. What isn't openly addressed ends up buried, but it's important to note that suppressed issues don't go away. They come back to haunt you and your company over and over again.
4. Team members (rather than leadership) hold other team members accountable. Peer pressure is a strong force. Take, for example, a situation where the CFO says they will provide information to HR on the cost of benefits. The HR person needs to ask by when, and the rest of the team needs to hold the CFO accountable for delivering that information in the time frame agreed upon. This may mean that at the next meeting the HR person is asked if they received the requested information, and if the CFO did not provide the data as promised, the rest of the team needs to ask why and get a time commitment for when the information will be available. If each member is accountable to other members (rather than management) they are more likely to become and stay close knit.
5. Create a culture that appreciates and bonds your team. Little things do matter. Take the team to lunch or dinner. Encourage them to have a friendly competition amongst themselves (could be work related or something fun like a contest for who makes the most delicious dessert), have them create a name for themselves (the team) - silly yes, but you'd be surprised how often silliness works to bond a team. There are countless ideas, but the bottom line is that you want them to do things together, and see themselves as a unit rather than individual contributors who come together periodically. By creating a culture that appreciates the team as a whole, each member wins when the team wins - and so does your company.
No matter how hard they try, there is no guarantee that talented individuals will make an exceptional team until they have become a collaborative group with common goals and expectations, so it works in the best interests of your organization to develop the best team possible. There is no doubt that team dynamics are integral to a team's success, so be sure to make effective communication a top priority. The ideas above will serve you well as you build your team, and remember, the quality of the team (or teams) that you build determines the success of your company. Keep a good team together.