Whether you’re in business, politics or sport, the rationale for team building is compelling. But while we all know that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, great teams of people don’t just happen by accident, and nor do they happen overnight.
Teambuilding has become a real management buzzword in recent years, with companies investing heavily into programmes that teach group skills, foster communication techniques and enable team bonding through a wide variety of out-of-office experiences. There’s a huge selection of diverse activities and adventures on offer via companies such as Into The Blue, including Indoor Skydiving, Chocolate Making and Bushcraft Skills that are designed to help empower employees and build an effective team back at the office.
But what are the key ingredients of the dream team? What sets a winning team apart from a losing one, a powerful from a weak one? A bit like Stephen R Covey’s classic management book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it all comes down to implementing, embedding and practising certain key traits.
Carpe Diem – Seize the Day
If you wait for things to come to you, chances are that opportunities will pass you by. A successful team will be on the lookout for favourable circumstances and have a proactive ‘can do’ attitude’ to grab the bull by the horns and seize the day.
Of course, taking responsibility for your actions cuts both ways. In the event that things don’t turn out as planned, a go getting team will be able to concede defeat and use the lessons learnt to its advantage for the next opportunity.
A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish
Making your own luck is all very well, but forging ahead without a plan and a goal ‘headless chicken’ style is not the way to success. The importance of strategic goalsetting should never be underestimated. An effective team starts with the long-term end goal in mind, working backwards through the milestones to the starting point.
With a coherent strategy and steps that are broken down into manageable chunks, the end result will be reached gradually and confidently.
Put One Foot in Front of the Other
Once the direction of travel has been determined, the team can get to work. It’s important to start at the beginning, as the very first step will set in motion a chain of events that ultimately leads to the finishing line.
Rather than jumping around the various tasks, follow the agreed plan exactly and concentrate on the things that matter most. Complete one important task at a time to the best of your abilities before moving on to the next task.
Positivity Breeds Success
A positive attitude is key but, as the saying goes, ‘there’s no ‘i’ in ‘team’. Mutual respect and appreciation for the contribution that every team member makes will go a lot further than going all out for personal gain at any cost.
Frame every task as a positive outcome for the entire team as the best chance of building long-term team cohesion and cooperation. It’s a win/win situation.
We Have Two Ears and One Mouth and Should Use Them Proportionately
Communication is a two-way process that starts with listening. A successful team will know how to listen to their customers’ demands, to feedback or constructive criticism, and to each other. Empathy is the basis for reaching a satisfactory conclusion.
Great communication skills based on appreciation and respect mean that everyone is properly heard, and can make their point effectively.
Clear Roles and Responsibilities
Before individual team roles and responsibilities can be allocated, a comprehensive evaluation (and periodic re-evaluation!) of each team member’s core strengths and personal skills must take place. The structure and composition of a winning team is such that every member knows exactly what his/her role is within the team.
It’s a finely tuned coming together of individual skills that complement each other perfectly and dynamically to support the efforts of the whole team.
If Everyone is Moving Forward Together, Then Success Takes Care of Itself
The key to a successful team is to value each others’ strengths and skills, putting them to good use for the greater good. In this way, the team shoulders the burden of the work equally and together so that no one member has too much to bear.