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Leadership Development

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Team

Weathered wooden planks of platform in park, close-up from above

What Are The Elements of Effective Teams?

Teams matter more than ever these days. Goodeven greatteamwork is a valued commodity, but it doesn’t happen naturally and without hard work, especially in the “new normal” of decentralized, flatter organizations and an (often) virtual workforce. Today, teams may have the benefit of greater collaboration, but may also be pulled in multiple directions. Before you can build a high-performing team, it might help to think about “who” is on your team.

  • Do you have a mix of virtual/remote members or in-person teams? Has this changed recently?
  • What is the level of experience of team members?
  • What is the percentage of new versus tenured team members?

Research proves that regardless of industry, tenure, or size, effective teams demonstrate certain common characteristics. For example, they deliver excellent results, demonstrate commitment, and have a high level of trust. To get started building those strengths on your team, here are some basic steps to work toward:

  • Provide each team member the opportunity to grow personally and professionally.

Just like one size doesn’t fit all, each team member has a range of experience and expertise that should be identified and nurtured. Giving team members the opportunity to learn and grow acknowledges the changing nature of work and changes in technology or new discoveries. It also allows them to grow in their role and prepare for future roles. In a 2019 study of over 1,000 learners, the majority of respondents saw a clear line between the company’s investment in them and their ability to grow the organization.*

  • Help them commit to a shared goal or vision.
Commitment doesn’t happen automaticallyit can be a challenge for managers to engender trust among team members if they themselves don’t understand the vision. The first step is to ensure you are communicating the vision and garnering buy-in by showing them their role in accomplishing that.
  • Respect what they bring to the teameven if you don’t agree with them 100% of the time.
Remember the value of outsight and ensure you are giving everyone a chance to ask questions, air doubts, question outcomes, and provide insights and opinions. It can feel very uncomfortable to ask for feedback and not hear the answer you might like. Brushing up on your empathy, listening skills, and questioning skills will help team members feel confident bringing you their opinionswhether they can be implemented or not.
  • Promote and recognize that team members are interdependent of each other.
Set out to discover that “secret superpower” that each and every one of your team members has. In order to capitalize on the strengths of the cumulative team, think about how they can even further improve that strength by relying on one another and working together. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking of someone as the “negative Nancy” if they don’t always jump onboard, or that the “Cheerleader” is always in the right. Seek out the different opinions on your teams, give everyone equal air time, and thank them for their insightthey just might uncover something everyone else overlooked.
  • Make sure they see themselves as being in it together.
Holding each other accountable can be one of the most uncomfortable aspects of working on a team. Set an example by doing what you say you will do and making sure you promote that as a team and acknowledge that when something doesn’t happen the right wayask what we can learn from the situation.

Building trust on a team and committing to the above tips won’t happen automatically, but working toward them, step-by-step, will create a foundation to work from.

It might also help to commit to knowing what styles or preferences your individual team members bring to the workplace. A tool like Everything DiSC® or a team training program such as The Five Behaviors™ can both lay a foundation and give a clearer roadmap or path to strengthening teams and identifying the behaviors of cohesive teams. 

*State of High-Stakes Learning, 2019 Survey Results, Intrepid

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Lauren Parkhill

Lauren Parkhill leads the marketing team in creating creative content that helps organizations develop their leaders and teams.