Monday, November 1, 2010

Teamwork - the Holy Grail?

Is finding the right combination of people a bit like searching for the Holy Grail when attempting to create strong and productive teams? Does there always seem to be one misfit or a pair of individuals who just can't get along?

Whether it's a team of two, or a group of twenty, establishing cohesiveness among team members is a vital, yet elusive, component for success. Teams cannot be forced or artificially created.

So what's the answer? Rather than attempting to create perfection from the outset, or directing people to "work as a team" when clearly they cannot, instead develop naturally positive and constructive teams by removing the hurdles that preclude their success.

Essential Attributes for Team Success:

Fairness - This is achieved when all the participants of a team perceive that the task is being handled fairly, and that their required contributions are reasonable and appropriate. On a team, fairness yields cooperation.

Responsibility - Each member of the team takes charge of his own role in the project. Staff knows what they are responsible to do, and make the necessary choices and decisions to be sure that their part of the project is aptly carried out. You'll know this is missing when staff pass the buck or make decisions that damage or undermine other elements of the project (or the company).

Reliability - Here every member of the team recognizes that s/he can depend on the rest of the group. Personal accountability is increased as each makes sure her part of the project is done correctly and completely so as not to let other members of the team down.

Honesty - Mistakes happen and things go awry, but knowing that others will be honest at all times makes the challenge of dealing with these unknowns less daunting. When others are up front, team members have the freedom to focus on their task at hand, rather than fear what they don't know. A fearless team can accomplish great things.

While these four components are necessary for authentic teamwork to emerge, a fifth element deserves mention, and that is TRUST. As in any relationship, trust is attained over time. When staff has experienced the other four attributes being religiously followed, trust will naturally take form.

While excellent teams will evolve as FAIRNESS, RESPONSIBILITY, RELIABILITY AND HONESTY are exhibited; it is TRUST that catapults teams into an unbreakable cycle of success.

The first step to unleashing the true potential of your team? Find out what's holding them back.