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Effective Teams – The Right Ingredients?

The Management Centre

In this blog post, Philly Graham, Senior Learning & Development Consultant at =mc discusses teams, and considers 5 key elements of effective teams.

Effective teams

When I joined =mc I was made to feel very welcome by my new team and I was reminded just how much I value good teams. And I believe I’m not alone in this.
Great teamwork has time and again been directly linked to high performance and increased employee engagement in organisations. In fact Stephen Covey, when describing the habits of highly effective people spoke about the importance of creating synergy, where “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” and that it is by working together people “can produce far better results than they could individually”. In my experience, when teams work well, this can certainly be the case.

So how can we make sure we are creating the right teams?  And what are some of the key characteristics that enable teams to continue being effective?

A great deal has been written on what makes a great team, but here are just 5 key ingredients I think can particularly help:

  1. Variety is the spice of life. “You like to-may-toes, I like to-mah-toes”, but rather than calling the whole thing off, this could actually be a reason to hire someone. When thinking about creating the right team, recruiting cardboard cut outs of you is not the answer (as much as it might sound simpler!). In fact management theorist Meredith Belbin, found that teams who performed best, were the ones who had a mix of strengths and preferences. So when finding new members of your team, think about where your gaps are and try to fill them.
  2. Divide and conquer. It has been said time and again, but it is a fundamental truth that the best teams are those where each member knows exactly what is expected of them. So really make sure you are clear on roles and responsibilities upfront. Following on from the first point if you have recruited different strengths, don’t be afraid to then use them! Don’t just do it how you have always done it. If there is someone in the team who is creative think about how you can best use that skill.
  3. Having face time. Even when you work in the same office, it can be a challenge staying connected when things get busy. Although advances in technology have helped, nothing beats old fashioned face to face communication. So make time for face to face meetings in your diary – even if you are geographically dispersed – the budget and time will be worth it.
  4. A little respect. Teams with a high mutual respect for each other are generally more successful as they are more likely to effectively challenge and support each other, thereby reaching better conclusions. One way to help create this environment is to set some team guidelines at the start to establish agreed ways of working together – and revisit them when new members join.  Role modelling also goes a long way here, so if you are the manager make sure you are not picking favourites or sides.
  5. Make time for fun. Finally it shouldn’t all be about work. There is huge value in getting to know your colleagues ‘off the clock’. So make time as a team to get together and have some fun! My first day at =mc I was welcomed by Picnic Monday – a time each month where everyone brings in a dish, we get away from our desks and just have a good old natter. It doesn’t need to take up huge amounts of time – but it goes a long way.

If you’re interested to know more about the =mc approach to teamwork, and particularly the role managers can play in creating great teams, take a look at the Emerging Managers Programme.

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Philly Graham

About Philly Graham

Philly specialises in communications, leadership and management development and personal effectiveness. She is an accredited coach, action learning set facilitator and a CIPD Learning and Development Associate. Philly’s career...