Change is happening.  Change in the way we work and interact, technology, customers, and competitors. If you are not changing the way you work as a team you could be moving backwards.  Unleash the potential in your team to get the most out of your teams and create a productive and healthy team.

Many companies are solving problems so complex that they have to be solved by teams.

There are 2 major barriers for team effectiveness and trust among team members.  Those barriers are communication and accountability.

Whether you are a nonprofit, sports team, startup or Fortune 500 company, establishing effective teams that work together is the foundation of what makes organizations strong.

What are the 9 attributes that will make your teams work effectively.

1, An owner

A team needs a full-time owner.  A leader.  This person is accountable for moving things along, making final decisions if the group is at an impasse and delivery for the final project.  They are the primary champion in and outside the team.  This person does not do all the work and is dependent on all the team members for creative problem solving thinking, to participate, be accountable and work for the good of the team.

Team Building Exercise

Ask each member of the team to write down who they believe the full-time owner is.  It will tell you if the team is clear who this person is and, if not, have the discussion on who the full-time owner is.  The goal is to do less things with less time and a clear owner is one of the attributes needed to move to this goal.

2. Balanced, cognitively diverse team.

Effective teams are comprised of individuals with different skills as well as cognitive diversity.  Is this team diverse with the right skills for the mission you are on?

Cognitive diversity refers to a team with different perspectives and information processing styles. Add skills and cognitive diversity and teams have a unique advantage when working through problems, approaching change, processing information, and performing in complex situations.

Team Building Exercise

Ask each team member to share what they responsible for and what the person sitting next to them is responsible for?  This can make a very interesting discussion we well as possibly a few laughs. Are each team members responsibilities explicit and understood?

This is a good time to make course corrections if the team is not clear on who is who and doing what.  Make no assumptions.  Assumptions have derailed many team efforts and productivity.

 3.  Shared understanding of the WHY

Does your team trust each other?  Trust is paramount for teams to be successful and working together effectively.  Teams will more easily focus on what they are doing if they understand WHY they are doing it.  Agreeing to the why question helps the team evolve and get a better of understanding of their purpose.  This is important for building morale, trust and unity.  In addition, agreeing to the why makes your team solutions much more relevant to your customers.

Team Building Exercise

For a quick evaluation, have your team focus on defining these 3 areas.

Problem, Impact and Solution.  Independently have each team member write down what the team is solving, the impact they need to make and solution.  Have each team member share their observations and ideas.  Then with your teams input and your leadership define clearly–What problem are we solving?  What is the impact going to be? And what solution do you believe you are building?

4. Value and metrics

Team members will be more engaged, work harder and demonstrate more accountability if they understand their worth and usefulness within the team as well as how it contributes to the company and other employees.  Does each member of the team contribute?

Is their value in what the team is doing? How do your team know they are being successful in making progress? How is value and success measured?

How does your team determine that the object or solution they are creating is important to the customer and user?  Word of caution-don’t spend all your time measuring. Determine specific goals and value and metric signals and move on.

Team Building Exercise

Once again, outline the goal of the project team.

Identify 2 at the most 3 signals that you will use to determine the team is making progress and going in the right direction to accomplish the outlined goal.

Now start working you will be able to measure to success.  As you start working in your team, there will be more information to help you identify signals.  Don’t have paralysis by analysis.  Get moving

5. Proof of concept

A proof of concept refers to a preliminary validation of the idea that you are about to put larger resources behind. new product, moving into a new market segment, or beginning a large new project.

A good proof of concept will:

  • Include those parts of your product or service that provide the core value to customers. (Keep it simple and focused.)
  • Show stakeholders, investors, or founders that there is market demand for what you offer.
  • Help refine what exactly it is that customers want to see from you, and whether it is feasible for you to deliver on.

For your team this means a clear understanding of proof of concept.   What value are you offering to the company as a whole and how to move forward demonstrating and even increasing that value with the least resistance.  The world is changing.   This is a fluid document.  With regular conversation with the team and the stake holders your team with further define your proof of concept.  Listen carefully and openly to what others. Listening does not mean that you will incorporate or add any suggestions made.  Listening will means you have more understanding and information to make better decisions.

Team Building Exercise

With your team, develop 2 maps.  A Customer Journey Map and a Customer Experience map.  While these overlap, they 2 different approaches to see how your customer make decisions as they determine what you are providing is of value to them and they will purchase what you offer.

The Customer Journey map identifies how the customer moves through the buying cycle, use this exercise, to identify potential pain points that they might encounter through the process. Buying cycle steps. –awareness, interest, research, desire, user and evangelist.

The customer experience map is a more holistic and encompassing approach to visualize the customer’s experience. This map focuses on behavior by identifying experiences and thought processes that go through every stage of the buying process. This looks at deeper customer experiences.

What is the journey of the customer experience?  Where do you need customers to turn? What route do you need the customer to take to end up with the decision to buy your product or service.

6.  Important Communication

While communication is paramount within your team, it is also very important outside of your team and with your company.  It is important explain to others in your organization what you are doing and why.   What are you working on?  What is the value?  Stakeholders are interested.

Find a simple and focused way to communicate what you are doing and why. Having visibility and understanding outside of your team will determine who the stakeholders are and what and where resources are that are not in your team.  You may be in a team, but teams are not totally self-sufficient. You are probably going to have to search out information from other sources or work with other teams working on different aspects of the problem.

Team Building Exercise

Write down what are you doing, how are you doing it and how others can or need to engage with you. Do this within your team.  This should be a written document that is simple, focused and direct.  Work hard to keep this written document to one page.  It will be easier to get others focused and on board if you are not loading them down with unnecessary information.

7. Direction and Speed

In our current marketplace, speed is important but speed in the wrong direction is not helpful. Lots will be learned as you go forward so move as quickly as you can towards your goal. It is not simply speed to get things done fast.  It is speed and direction.

Team Building Exercise

Discuss in your team.  Are you learning as you go along?  Things will change and mistakes or sidesteps will be made.  Learn from those because they will happen.

Are you learning about what working and changing paths when needed?  The point is to change direction when you are necessary.

Three areas to focus on– Start, Stop and Continue

What do you need to start doing?

What do you need to stop because it isn’t working?

What is the best way to continue?

8. Rules of engagement for your team

While remote teams were in place before, Covid19 produced an even further surge in the area of working remotely.  This trend is not going to change.  Everything we have covered can be done in remote team meetings and many tools are available to keep communication fluid and projects moving.  Getting your technology set up is only 10% of the equation for successful virtual team building. The other 90% is understanding how you work together virtually as a team.

Team Building Exercise

As team leaders and members using virtual communication is an important skill.  There are fewer visual cues which can create misunderstandings and erode trust and engagement.

One way to overcome these risks is to work with your team in the beginning to create rules of engagement.  These help to create structure and allow teams to focus on the goals and tasks needed for a successful outcome.  A team that works together well is needed

Items to agree on

  • Response time
  • Identify ways the team will communicate
  • Ideas to stay connected personally and professionally
  • What to do in case of conflict and how to manage it.
  • Team members schedules and when they are available
  • Add items that are specific to your team.

These are details that can cause division in a team and can result in all the planning, goal setting and team development to deteriorate.  Defining these as a team will bond the team more closely together.

As companies find their path through the current pandemic, the ability to build and lead high performing teams is of critical importance. This is an environment where people, even remotely, must work closely together, wear many hats and work effectively across the organization to get tasks accomplished quickly enough to remain competitive.