What is the secret to a great team?

19 November 2014

Over the years, I have worked in many teams and earlier this year, I blogged about team work. But it is a subject I often return to and I wonder…. What is the secret to a great team?

I am certainly not the oracle on this subject (and I would question anyone who says they are!) but there are a few thoughts and ideas which I have picked up on along the way which might just help if you are thinking about developing a team:

1. Think small. Ideally, your team should have seven to nine people. If you have fifteen or more, you are setting yourself up for a challenging time ahead as the connections between team members are too hard to make.

2. Diversity. A team should be made up of people who have different opinions about things, people who approach their work in different ways. Diversity is one of the keys to a successful team. That said, I’m sure that on every good team, an individual has gone home at the end of a day thinking, ‘This isn’t going to work’!

3. Respect. Each team member must have enough self-confidence and self-respect to respect other team members.

4. Common vision. The mission – whatever it is – must be clearly defined and articulated. Everybody has to understand it and know the part they play in achieving it. Team members also need to be driven by the team’s results, not by individual results.

5. Positivity. All team members have to be positive thinkers. A team just cannot function with an excuse-driven, ‘no-can-do’ member on board.

Generally, a good team in the making starts with shared values. Are the team members passionate about the work that they are going to be doing together? There will be contention on any team. That’s to be expected. But at the end of the day, team members have to like one another — and they have to like what they are doing.

When I look at the team here at FWL, I use the 3P’s test. The P’s stand for people, process and product. If everyone on the team isn’t clear about the product (whatever it is that we are trying to create) and the process (how we are going to get where we need to be, who drives what and who is the ultimate decision maker), then there are going to be people problems. If ever you are presented with a challenging situation, step back and ask, ‘What are we trying to create?’ Then ask, ‘How are we trying to build it?’. Usually if you can unpick these two issues, it will clarify what the people problem is all about. If not, you’ve got a ‘fit’ problem.

I am lucky to work in some fantastic teams – this has not always been the case I can assure you! – and the main benefit is that the best teams produce the best results!

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