Teams are so much more than a group of individuals who work or play together. High performing teams seem to have an aura of excellence about them and a sense that nothing is unachievable.
However, when teams are not functioning well, the consequences can be dire.
Teams normally comprise members with complimentary skill sets, who have come together to achieve a common goal. Whilst there are many elements that contribute to making a team truly excellent, there is a fundamental component without which a team will arguably never reach its full potential.
A team performs at its best when individuals understand the role they play and how they contribute to the team’s shared goal. This principle applies to teams at work and at play.
Consider a world class football team.
Individuals are chosen for the team based on their skill in a particular position. Each individual understands the role their position contributes to the overall goal of the team; to win. As a team develops, they develop trust in each other’s skills and abilities and work together leveraging each other’s strengths to win matches.
The team goal is of a higher order than any outcome for an individual. And really great teams have an aura of being unbeatable.
Conversely, if individuals who do not know each other, take the field in a position for which their skills are not suited, and/or they do not understand the role they play within the team, the team has a large chance of losing.
Players assume personal responsibility for winning because they have confidence in their own abilities above the combined skills of the team. Positions on the filed become confused and overlap, players get in each other way squander opportunities. Players become frustrated with each other and the team as a whole.
To build the foundation of a great team follow these simple steps:
Step 1 – formulate the right team for the right purpose.
Ideally a team compromises specialist individuals who have been carefully selected to achieve a specific objective or goal. Implicit in the development of a team is that the outcome will be achieved more effectively by a group of individuals rather than by an individual acting alone.
Step 2 – get the roles sorted.
An individual understanding how they fit into and contribute to the broader structure is fundamental to a healthy team. Without this any work done to make a team more efficient or better performing will likely have minimal effect if the group cannot agree on what they do and how they do it. Agree on role descriptions that broadly outline what objectives need to be completed by each individual.
Step 3 – Agree on how the team will play together.
Ground rules are important. Without an identified commitment to how the team will work together, moving forward together will be inhibited.