Building a high performance team involves more than just randomly assembling a group of talented individuals. For a team to be truly effective, its members must unite with the same vision and be motivated to bring that vision to life. They must share clear, measurable goals, and be committed to each play their part in the overall success of the group.
Here are six key steps to building and maintaining a strong, cohesive and effective team:
1. 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? Providing a clear, inspiring vision sets the foundation for successful teamwork, and helps guide the direction of the group when they face challenges and decisions.
2. Assemble the team
High performance teams are comprised of individuals that passionately embrace the vision, believe their contribution is meaningful and are motivated to give their best effort. All team members should trust, respect and support each other. Select members with complementary skills and abilities, who can bring a diverse range of viewpoints and ideas to the table. Achieving a good balance of personality types will enable the group to work together harmoniously but also challenge each other when necessary.
3. Determine the goals
Once the 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. Outline the required tasks in a schedule, with agreed deadlines, milestones and responsibilities. Decide the role that each team member will play. Be sure to also consider other resources required in terms of time, materials, space, support and money.
4. Set expectations
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 from the outset will ensure that each member’s conduct and contributions are appropriate.
5. 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. Good questions to ask are: how are we doing? What have we achieved so far? What have we learned? What isn’t working so well? How can we improve? Monitoring and reviewing progress allows for adjustments and improvements to be incorporated along the way.
6. Celebrate and reward
Make the time to regularly recognise, reward and celebrate both team and individual performance. This will help to build morale and bolster the motivation of the group to continue their hard work. Find the most appropriate way to celebrate team milestones, 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.