Building a successful business is much like building a winning team. In my own company I see myself as a coach and the people around me as valued team members. My focus over the past few years has been figuring out the best ways to support the team so they can meet our team objectives. Graduating to a team philosophy has allowed us to create a synergy in the company that was not possible acting as individuals. The best part of the team philosophy is that it makes work fun for us!
Here are five steps that have helped me build great teams at work:
1. Have a common goal and direction. Alignment is very important to help everyone move in the same direction. It is doesn't mean that everyone has to step in the exact same footprints, it just means that everyone knows which direction the group is headed so the team can openly discuss the best way to get there.
2. Openly communicate throughout the entire team. Open communication reduces conflict by minimizing fear of the unknown. It seems like so much human conflict starts when communication stops. When a team does a good job internally communicating, it removes the guess work on what others are really doing or their true intentions. There is much less, "Do you know what Sally is doing?" or "Do you know what Bob wants us to be doing?" All of a sudden, individual roles become clear and the team can concentrate, drama free, on a common team objective.
3. Develop trust and a safe environment so that everyone feels comfortable enough to share ideas and communicate issues that might become obstacles. A team where everyone is expected to blindly support the leader’s idea is not taking full advantage of the groups potential. A Great Team's job should be about finding the best ideas and making them better. This requires an environment where openly sharing ideas with honest criticism is not seen as a threat.
4. Assign roles so everyone knows how they will contribute to the team. This will reduce conflict and make team members feel like they are a valuable part of the team. When roles are not clearly assigned, it can create in-fighting as two team members compete for the same role or turf. Imagine watching a baseball game where the coach didn't assign positions and two players take the field, both to play second base. A good coach makes sure that everyone knows what position their playing before taking the field.
5. Take time to celebrate the wins! Break your goals down into smaller objectives so you can celebrate each win as you work toward achieving the larger objectives. It is no different than a team sports season where the overall objective might be winning the division title, but the team takes a little time to celebrate each game win. It is no different with your team and celebrating the wins along the way will help your team reinforce what success looks like. Remember, life is a journey and we need to enjoy each step along our path.
It only takes two or more people to start a great team at work. Make your team a winner and the next thing you know you will have a whole bench of people wanting to be a part of it. Building a great team is not an easy endeavor. Yet sharing the wins and even the losses brings you together and can help you set and meet bigger goals than you could alone.