Management teamwork is one of the most talked about topics in management and leadership. It is talked about so much, in fact, that it is almost taken for granted. Questions about teamwork in interviews are routine – as are the answers received. Everyone can talk it, but not everyone can do it.
But when you have a group that works together so well they can finish each other’s sentences, pick up others projects midstream and complete them, or can set goals for themselves…that is not routine. That is magic. That is the type of team everyone wants to be on and have in their organization.
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That kind of team is hard to come by. Creating such a team is the result of careful consideration, assignment and a little bit of luck. If you are looking to build a team like that, here are some things you should know or do.
Distribute duties equally according to strengths. The first thing about a great team is that each individual is great at what he or she does in their role. That breeds confidence in each other. Once that confidence is there, then you can start to cross train. It may mean that your best numbers person will need learn how to do a Power Point presentation, and that your best presenter might have to learn how to do the balance sheet for the project. Not that they have to do it all the time, but getting exposure to others’ jobs will lead to appreciation for one another as well.
Challenge them. The only way any one gets better is try to do more than what he or she did yesterday. If a BMXer wants to go from one backflip to three, then he has to learn how to do two first. It is the same thing with team members. Give them bigger assignments, test their abilities and let them make mistakes. Mistakes are the number one way to learn…and grow. Provide the challenge and the opportunity to succeed.
Consider personalities. While skill sets are critical, it is also essential that team members get along. Not every person can be a “plug and play” – do well on any team. If you are creating a team of veterans in the office, give careful consideration to relationships and complimenting mentalities. Likeability will help build that confidence in each other and make it easier to feel as though each member can be relied upon.
You can’t force it. Good teams can be built; great teams build themselves. Provide the ingredients – strong skill sets, relatable personalities, challenges, cross training – and stand back. Trying to tell each member how to interact with one another is not going to build the team, it will create cracks. Only by empowering the team to function as a team and not as a group of individuals led by you will you get what you are looking for – a self-functioning team that you can count on.
Teamwork is not have to be a catchphrase or a buzzword. It became one because organizations experienced great teams and saw what they can do. You and your organization can do the same.
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