As any entrepreneur knows, a great team is very often the key to your company’s success. Fortunately, if you want to build a great team and forge a sense of teamwork it is not as daunting as it seems.
The secret lies in understanding how a successful team works, the skillset of the individuals working for you, and remembering the process a team goes through before it reaches optimum performance.
Step 1: Understand various team roles
A team will not be successful unless it has the right mix of personal strengths and skills within the group. No one person has all the characteristics and skills necessary; usually skills are linked to particular traits.
If you are the creative and impulsive type, then you will be bored very quickly if the task requires careful analysis of large sets of data, for example.
Professor Belbin in Cambridge, UK, came up with a number of complementary roles that have to be filled in order to have an effective team. They are:
The team worker
This person supports others by improving communication between members, highlighting and building on others’ strengths, and underpinning any shortcomings;
They make sure a sense of urgency is maintained, and that the job in hand is completed effectively and efficiently;
They are the analyser of problems and evaluator of ideas and suggestions;
These people get on and put the ideas into practical working procedures;
They will recognise the team’s strengths and weaknesses, ensure that they play to everyone’s strengths, and make the most of the team’s resources;
The resource investigator
This person relishes exploring, investigating and reporting on resources, ideas or developments outside the group, and is good at dealing with external forces and negotiation;
They enjoy directing attention to the setting of priorities and objectives to shape the way team effort is applied;
The ideas person
Someone who puts forward ideas of new methods or applications and who looks for possible breakthroughs to problems.
Belbin also developed a questionnaire that is still used today by managers and company owners to identify what roles their staff members are more likely to feel comfortable undertaking. Tests like this are worth doing, either during recruitment or as a part of staff training.
Step 2: Know how teams develop
There is a temptation when you have a disparate group of people to book a “team bonding” day; and then become surprised when they don’t connect once back in the workplace. Understanding the stages that a team goes through before it becomes successful is equally important to knowing the roles that make up that team.
Tuckman identified stages of group development as:
When people come together and start trying to make an impression on the group.
When fights break out and different personalities start to show.
When the group gets through the initial bumps and starts to work together.
The group finally starts to work well and get on with the job at hand.
When a group has completed its task and disbands. Obviously in a company, you will want your team to remain at the performing stage.
Step 3: Communicate, and then communicate more
If you have recruited the right people with the right skill sets, your job is to get them through the tougher levels of team development. Create a sense of shared vision and values. Be clear from day one what the organization is all about.
Leadership should be a transformational, not transactional, role. Make sure communication is a two-way process. Create an open door policy and offer a listening ear. Set out the aims and objectives of what you require in plain English.
Step 4: Establish a clear management strategy
Finally, it is important to establish a clear career structure, staff development plan, and appraisals and review policy. Then, back it up with an appropriate reward system. Allow team members to take ownership of the projects and give praise and credit where due.
Invest time in training your team, from professionally accredited training programs to the softer skills of customer service and communication. Celebrate successes and give your team the opportunity to come up with new ideas.
When it comes to areas such as branding and corporate identity, always include your team in the consultation process. As the people on the ground, they might know more about the business and clients than you do.
This article has been edited.
Cameron Peck is the Director of Safeguard Life, a company that specialises in Key Person Insurance needs in Melbourne, Australia. Through his years of experience in the industry, Cameron has not only advised other companies on how to protect their teams from unexpected death or illness, but has also experienced firsthand the importance of having a team that he can rely on to build a successful business.