How to Build a Team that Works

Team build activity

What is a working team? It is a group of individuals with varying but complementary skills committed to working towards a common goal that each member understands and accepts.  It is essential to build a team that will work harmoniously and contributes to the overall business objectives.

Why Build a Team?

Working as a team, members do communicate better, undertake more opportunities together, find better solutions to a magnitude of challenges, and implement actions faster. 

Team members are often more engaged, alert, proactive, and very knowledgeable.  They are generally better prepared to respond to varying conditions than the traditionally organized workforce where people work as individuals.  

Foundation for a Team

Building a team requires to lay a foundation that will not be shaken when the team suffers adversity.  So, laying a solid foundation will allow you to build a strong, self-reliant, and agile team with teamwork spirit.   

The team foundation is made up of five things: 

  • The clarity in team goals – the team needs to know what has to be done
  • Clear communication – provide information and direction
  • Clearly defined team roles – the team must have formally designed roles  
  • Established ground rules – what will be tolerated within the team 
  • Well defined decision procedures – how decisions will be made

The solid foundation is the cornerstone of the team, without it, teamwork will fail.  In many workplaces, teams fail because there’s no clarity of goals, or challenging objectives to which members can commit themselves.

What Makes a Good Team

Having a solid foundation is essential.  But building a capable team on a strong foundation requires individuals with the right mindset – people who can hold the team together through the ever-present twists and turns in the workplace. 

Related: How to Become a Team Leader in the Workplace

So how do you find the right people for the team? First, you need to do an audit and determine the level of skills and knowledge of individuals you have available. Then identify the gaps in their competencies and look for people who can fill those gaps. 

One of the advantages of teamwork, it allows members to become multi-skilled through job sharing and cross-training.  Also, a team is set-up not to work in isolation, but in collaboration with other functions in the workplace.  Therefore, team members learn from the diversity of skills that surround them, which is suitable for multidisciplinary teamwork.  

However, to develop the best multidisciplinary team, you need to have people with varying but complementary skills and experiences right from the beginning.  When a team is multidisciplinary from the start, members quickly develop interpersonal skills and work well for everyone.     

So, consider the following skills to start with:

  • Job skills 

Job skills encompass collaboration, contributing, coordination, influencing, goal setting, motivation, creative thinking, and other qualifications or the technical knowledge that team members need to be successful on the job.

  • Teamwork skills

Team working skills include the interpersonal, communication, and social skills that individuals need to contribute effectively to team efforts.  Team members also want to give and receive feedback.

  • Problem-solving skills

Team members have to know how to analyze problems in a structured and logical way before identifying practical solutions to the root cause. They are also required to be involved in the search for new continuous improvement methods. 

So, the team needs individuals who can think critically, analytically and logically, with the knowledge of interpreting data to investigate and establish the root causes of problems. 

Team members deal with several bottlenecks that require to make snap decisions with or without the supporting information.  Traditionally, managers make all operational decisions, which is not suitable for teamwork.  

Team members must have the skills to evaluate the consequence of issues at hand and then make decisions accordingly without wasting time waiting for the leader to decide.  

Personal Attributes 

Although skills, experience, and knowledge are essential, they are not the only factors that make effective teamwork.  Personalities also play a big part in building a cohesive team, and for the team to work harmoniously you need to find the following people with positive attributes:  

  • Confident 

Having individuals who can believe in their own and other people’s abilities is essential. Team members who display high levels of confidence often know what to do, and they can easily overcome obstacles or galvanize fellow members during the time of crisis.

  • Proactive

The team needs individuals who don’t wait for instructions on what to do. It makes the team more effective if members are quick thinkers with a high level of initiative to get the job done.

Remember, you are building team spirit in a group of individuals who can self-manage; you’re not always going to be there to monitor or making decisions.

The team needs someone with a can-do attitude. No matter what issue the team comes up against, the person will persevere until they overcome the obstacles.  It’s that non-defeatist mindset that pushes others to remain positive and focused during the turbulent times.  

  • Adaptable 

Progressive businesses go through a lot of changes to remain competitive.  So when the changes happen, team activities might also have to change to meet the business needs.

The most successful agile teams usually have members who are flexible and adaptable to the new changes rapidly. They can quickly prioritize and take on new tasks as required by the business or customers.

Building a team is not an easy task and cannot happen without effort.  Sometimes a team can develop organically, but as a leader, you still have a lot of work to do— otherwise, once a storm hits the team it will not be able to survive.

The more you communicate, the more likely to establish a strong relationship with team members that will lead to increased loyalty and productivity. 

Effective communication 

The two-way communication allows collective inquiry and understanding of different viewpoints.  Effective communication is like having a dialogue – every team member should be given more time if it’s necessary, to present their perspectives.

You don’t have to interrupt when they’re talking, instead, listen very intently to understand what they are saying.  

You want to understand what they think, but not to prove them wrong. If in any doubt of what has been said, you can always repeat the conversation when it’s your turn to talk. 

Team Engagement

Your team will be consistent and produce the best performances once they feel valued, engaged, and have a stake in their work. 

Most people prefer to work in an environment where they can receive attention and inclusion, rather than getting a higher salary.  Effective employee engagement depends on the type of relationship between the leader and the team members.

If you are arrogant, cynical, dishonest, distant, unpredictable, rude and condescending, the relationship will be toxic.  

Engaging with employees can be done in many ways.  You can make formal or informal one-to-one conversations with each team member.  You can also do two-way feedback and use the opportunity to find out what team members think about your leadership.   

What you want from engaging with the team is the following:  

  • Understand members individually
  • Support them to overcome challenges 
  • Identify and agree on responsibilities and objectives
  • Acknowledge their efforts and good work
  • Identify and develop capabilities
  • Show genuine desire to meet their needs 
  • Discuss the obstacles face to face and brainstorm possible solutions 

In conclusion, to build a team that works requires bits of patience – it takes time and a lot of effort.  It is also essential to keep developing the relationship between team members through on work regular team-building projects. 

Further reading: How to Build Teamwork in the Workplace

How do you build a team or what makes a team? please leave your though it in the comment box below

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