Over the last 10-15 years, and certainly now, during the pandemic, most CEOs are over-extended. They are grappling with economic and health issues, possibly busy raising funds, working from home and trying to keep the organization engaged in vital work, all while trying to address multiple ventures at the same time. By building effective teams, a CEO has additional resources to help in managing day-to-day operations. Good teams can keep things running smoothly when the CEO or other key executive is out of town, under the weather, planning new services or otherwise involved in other efforts.
Now especially, as employees are off-site and engaged in multiple scenarios at home, effective teams can keep day-to-day operations from becoming derailed. The key word here is “effective.” Building reliable, effective teams takes skill. Even if you are not the CEO, team building is important to the mission of most organizations. Many office environments work in teams. Projects are complex, involve multiple talents and affect more than one area of the organization. Teams are essential. We often brainstorm in teams. Teams help innovate as each team member brings their own ideas and strategies. Colleagues may even talk about “my team.” The way we work together has a lot to do with how we accept new ideas, how we learn to trust one another, how we innovate and even whether or not we are having fun while we work. It is often teamwork that helps us strategize and solve challenges.
As we think about brainstorming within a team and reflect on how creativity gets everyone engaged in the work, it becomes more apparent that the critical work comes when you are BUILDING teams. Throwing people together and hoping they work well as a group very rarely works. Instead, we should be consciously building teams that will accomplish tasks and work well as a whole. Ask the following questions:
- What are you looking for when you build a team?
- How can you help a team be more creative?
- And most importantly, how can you help your team succeed?
These are real issues that we sometimes blindly expect managers or high performing colleagues to know how to handle. But do they? A colleague who is expected to lead a team effectively needs insight into what he/she should expect and have ammunition for overcoming difficulties. Here are a few suggestions for building effective teams.
- Teams work most effectively when there is harmony within the group. Who doesn’t want to work in an organization where there is mutual respect? Nurturing a team-oriented environment, built on trust and respect, is the foundation for success. The leader needs the trust of the people in the group. A team will follow guidelines based on trust and integrity. Even when there is uncertainty, trust brings us together. Having that very basic trust enables a team to work effectively, even when the boss is on the road or busy with another matter. The reader may want to take a look at our article on Trust: Ten Tips For Developing Trust.
- Teamwork also improves when people get to know each other better. Consider organizing regular, in-person, meetings with each team. That might be harder in today’s world, where teams expand across states and even across countries. But by organizing a Zoom meeting, or at least an annual meeting where everyone meets in person, people warm up to each other and develop better relationships. If your team is self-contained in one location, even if working remotely, it’s easier to schedule an online Zoom meeting. Eventually, when work becomes more “normal,” it may be a good idea to plan an outing for the team – and one where they have to do something together is even better. You can organize a basketball game, for instance, where your team has to focus on cooperation. Or you can organize a day of reading to students in a local school. Your team shares an experience they won’t forget.
- Actively lead – and follow through! If you demand productivity, creativity and quality work, follow through on your word. If you promise a speaker, find a good one. If you are expecting expertise, make sure your team has the knowledge it needs as a whole. If not, arrange a skill building educational opportunity on the subject or hire the expertise. Lead by example.
- Hire as a team. And speaking of hiring, when you do have to turn to outside resources, ask your team to identify the right resource. Once committed, your team will engage in the learning environment they’ve selected. Or if finding the right resource means hiring another individual, they will look for a person they can trust – making your job easier.
- Deal with conflict. Misunderstandings and conflict will show up somewhere down the line. Ignoring those conflicts will only cause more harm. Instead, meet them head on. Interestingly enough, conflict often leads to innovation. By sitting down with the team, discussing the situation and brainstorming as a group, good ideas often arise. Working together, employees are more motivated to find solutions. And keeping motivated is certainly not an issue if you’re solving problems and coming up with new ideas.
At Bahar Consulting, we can help your organization build effective teams. We’ll look at strengths, skill development and individual differences. We’ll examine behaviors and leadership issues. And we’ll work with teams – demonstrating the concepts and showing your organization that you can learn, innovate, grow and have fun at the same time.