The SECRET to Successful Team
By Jim Dawson
have just joined a team of specialists who have worked together for
six months on a potentially lucrative contract.
At your first Monday morning meeting, you sit at the conference
table listening to your teammates sort through project details.
You ask questions and are politely answered.
Even though you have knowledge and experience to offer, no one
asks for your input. Some
team members are questioning the politics behind certain decisions.
Others are complaining about the lack of resources.
Your boss enters the room and everyone grows quiet as he
explains that the company could lose the contract if this team misses
familiar? It doesn’t
have to. There are
specific reasons why some teams succeed and other teams fail.
Is it the quality of leadership, the commitment of team
members, or something else entirely?
Is there a SECRET to successful team dynamics?
storefront restaurants to corporate conglomerates, an organization’s
success depends on the effectiveness and productivity of its various
teams. And team success
depends on the cooperation and collective efforts of human beings who
may or may not even like each other.
Since any weakness within an organization can quickly become a
competitive disadvantage, the people within an organization must
function effectively as individuals and as team members.
When it comes to teamwork, a person’s ability to build relationships,
work with others, and communicate effectively can be more important
than his or her technical expertise.
According to Daniel Goldman, author of Emotional
Intelligence, the brightest people are often not the most
effective in a business organization.
Rather it is the people with superior intrapersonal
intelligence that are the most productive.
They can create the synergy needed to get things done, things
that cannot be accomplished by an individual working alone.
In addition to having members with intrapersonal and interpersonal
savvy, what are some of the characteristics of a successful team?
What do they have in common?
On a fundamental level, a successful team must have:
clear mission: members
know what they are supposed to do and have agreed to meet specific
right competencies and skills: members
know how to do what they are supposed to do.
and clear support from leadership:
members know their efforts are appreciated and their contributions are
essential to the organization’s success.
As described in William G. Dyer’s book Team Building,
successful team leaders take time for team calibration and maintenance
Team calibration can be as simple as talking about what’s going well
and what the team might do differently.
As difficulties arise, talking about past challenges and
successes can help team members regain their sense of connection to
one another and to their common goals--preventing a downward spiral
that can pull people apart.
Team maintenance activities bring the team together in a safe, accepting
environment. Developing a
team “coat of arms,” or holding a “show and tell” session
where members share their hobbies and interests can help team members
discover things they have in common.
Team maintenance also means encouraging the input of new
members, even if they challenge the way things are being done.
Conflicting opinions can be stimulating and thought provoking
for any team, especially if they are looking for a new approach to
solving an old or chronic problem.
On a day-to-day basis, members of a successful team:
success looks like and they take the time to celebrate it.
They set up benchmarks or checkpoints so they can recognize
their accomplishments along the way.
It’s the leader’s job to help the team establish them and
to validate the people and the process as progress is made toward the
to develop the best solution regardless of who comes up with it.
They speak candidly and are willing to fight for good ideas,
while at the same time maintaining respect for their fellow team
members. They do not
tolerate defensive posturing and finger pointing.
are some of the characteristics shared by successful teams.
But what steps can your team take to ensure that you are on the
road to success and not the road to failure?
What is the S.E.C.R.E.T. behind successful team dynamics?
– Seek and promote acceptance for all team members.
You are courting failure if you have any team members who feel
unappreciated or left out. All
team members must know they are valued by, and are valuable to, the
– Establish interdependent goals.
All members must clearly understand and support team goals, and
have individual goals that lead to the completion of the overall task.
Team members must be willing to support one another and
understand that there is no such thing as saying, “Hey, there’s a
hole in your side of the boat.”
– Create history.
How you perform together and the challenges you overcome will
write the history of your team. It
will be the “remember when’s” after the project is complete.
History can also be a barrier to success so be willing to start
fresh and forgive the past. No
one is perfect, including you.
– Realize goals – accomplish something.
One of the greatest moments in the life of the team is when
they achieve something together. Even
the smallest first step creates a bond between you and your team
members. It’s your first
taste of “Yes! We can do
it!” and it is sweet. Set
goals in stages or in smaller objectives so that the team is
constantly achieving something.
– Encourage external threats.
Anytime a team is faced with a threat from outside it will
instinctively pull together. You
may bicker occasionally among yourselves but an external threat brings
the realization that survival lies with your team and you had better
– Trust – develop relationships and shared norms.
Trust is essential in successful teamwork.
You build trust by being trustworthy, by doing what you say you
will and taking the risk to trust others to do the same, and by
developing relationships with other team members and getting to know
them. Agreeing on how you
will treat one another is another critical part of developing trust
and creating a safe environment in which all team members can work
A team can have great POWER--however, there is no “I” in
POWER--there is only “WE.” Yet,
ultimately, it is up to each individual to be
a team member, even if that means keeping his or her personal agenda
or “ego” in check.
With the SECRET of team dynamics, the support of your leadership,
a clear mission, common goals, recognition of achievements, and the
conscious, consistent effort of your team members, you will have an
unstoppable force that can accomplish almost anything.
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