Building a high-performance team involves more than just assembling a group of talented individuals.
For a team to be effective, its members must unite behind an inspiring vision and be motivated to bring that vision to life. They must share clear, measurable goals, and be committed to playing their part in the overall success of the group.
Here are some key steps to building a strong, cohesive and effective team:
Assemble the team
High-performing teams are comprised of individuals who passionately embrace the business’ vision, believe their contribution is meaningful and are motivated to put in their best effort. They also share the values of trust, respect and support. Select members with complementary skills and abilities, who can offer the team a diverse range of viewpoints and ideas. Try and achieve a good balance of personality types, so the group can work together harmoniously but also challenge each other when necessary.
Define the purpose
Clearly define the purpose of the team, including the overall outcome it has been brought together to achieve. What do you want to create, improve or change? What is the purpose of each person’s role in the team? How does their individual role fit together with the other roles of the team, and how does the team contribute towards the organisation’s success? Providing a clear, inspiring vision sets the foundation for successful teamwork, and helps guide the direction of the group as they face challenges and make decisions.
Determine the goals
Once your team is established and united behind a shared, compelling purpose, the next step is to break the vision down into smaller, manageable goals and tasks. A big, vague goal might look good on paper, but without clear achievable goals, team members may feel overwhelmed and uncertain of how to get there.
Outline the required tasks in a schedule, with agreed deadlines, milestones and responsibilities, and decide the role that each team member will play. Be sure to also consider any resources required in terms of time, materials, space, support and budget.
To ensure that each member understands what is expected of them, define a standard of conduct for the team. Will communication be frequent, open, honest and transparent? Will contributions be encouraged, valued and recognised? Will conflict be handled in a constructive way? Will team decisions and feedback be respected?
Setting clear standards at the start ensures that each member’s conduct and contributions are appropriate, and gives you something to refer back to should any conflict arise.
Monitor and review
Regularly review the group’s performance through team meetings and one-on-one catch ups to ensure that progress is being made toward the group and individual goals. If there is potential friction or conflict in the team structure, it’s better to be aware and monitoring the progress than to have the team dissolve completely down the track.
Reflect on questions such as: How are we doing? What have we achieved so far? What have we learned? What isn’t working well? How can we improve? Monitoring and reviewing progress allows for adjustments and improvements to be incorporated into team processes along the way.
Celebrate and reward
Make the time to regularly recognise, reward and celebrate performance. This will help to build morale and bolster the motivation of the group to continue their hard work, and will also show your awareness and understanding of them as individuals and as a team.
Tailor the celebration of team milestones to the individual member’s preferences and comfort level, such as a personal ‘thank you’ at a team meeting, an email copied to senior managers, or a team lunch. Ensure that recognition is consistent, and that the method you choose inspires and reinforces the team members to continue their positive contribution to the team’s progress.
Encourage open communication
It’s equally important that team members feel they can talk to you and to each other with support and candour. Communication is a crucial element to an effective team, so you should lead by example. Make sure your team knows the importance of this by ensuring easy access to open communication lines with you.
Encourage your team to talk to each other about all aspects of their projects so everyone feels their voice is being heard. Avoid risking great ideas falling to the wayside by establishing an easy and consistent way for the team to communicate – an email thread, an online shared document, or even just regular face-to-face meetings.
For more guidance, check out our management advice blog.
Effective teams require planning, effort, and creativity. Create a team well positioned to succeed by:
- Communicating a purpose and setting each team member's role
- Defining smaller, timely goals and the expectations for conduct
- As the team develops, monitoring the performance and making adjustments if required
- Recognising the team's achievements along the way
- Rewarding each team member's individual contribution