Building Effective Teams

Effective teams have high productivity rates, increased job satisfaction, and improved individual health but building effective teams can be challenging. Consider for a moment the best team you have been on; this could be one while you were college, previous job or a current situation. What are the characteristics that make that team effective?

One of the most critical criteria in relation to building effective teams is support. Teams whose member support one another are able to make decisions that are effective, quality and accepted by others. When the team itself buys off on the decision it is easier to sell to others. There are several characteristics of building effective teams:

Characteristics of Effective Teams

  • Listening – Each team member needs to be able to listen to one another.
  • Constructively Disagreeing – Not everyone is going to agree with all ideas but by differing constructively the team can come up with the best solution.
  • Participation – Everyone needs to participate equally, there are no “free-rides” in an effective team environment.
  • Analyze the Situation – The team needs to be able to analyze the situation, identify objectives, risks and solutions.

What Does an Effective Team Look Like?

Building effective teams requires competent, committed and results driven individuals with strong leadership. Teams should have significant levels of responsibility, consequences for poor performance, and rewards for superior performance. Below is a list of characteristics that show what an effective team looks like.

  1. The environment of an effective work team is comfortable, informal, and relaxed. Team members are involved and occupied with meeting tasks and goals.
  2. During discussion all team members participate and the discussion is relevant to current tasks and goals. If the topic does get off track someone brings it back on subject. Members listen to one another and there is little or no fear about sharing different or creative ideas.
  3. All team members understand the goal and the objective is frequently reached by consensus. Formal voting is minimal.
  4. Feedback is frequent, honest, comfortable, with few personal attacks. Feedback is constructive.
  5. The team is comfortable with disagreements and doesn’t avoid conflict. Differences are resolved or taken into consideration, the team finds a way to live with them.
  6. The team leader doesn’t dominate the group. The issue isn’t who is in control but how the goal is met.

Characteristics of High Performing Teams

It is usually pretty easy to distinguish a high performing team from one that certainly is lacking. Fortunately there are several characteristics of high performing teams that make it possible to duplicate.

  1. Strong Inspiring Goal – A meaningful and thought-provoking objective which is captivating enough to form a team identity and has obvious values associated with its success.
  2. Results Driven – The team is organized by the objective and the roles and responsibilities are clear. There is open communication, fact-based judgments and methods for providing personal performance feedback.
  3. Knowledgeable Team Members – Team members must not only have the desire but the skills and abilities to accomplish the team’s objectives. They must also be confident in themselves and each other with the ability to cooperate successfully.
  4. Unified Commitment – Achieving the goal is the primary commitment and team members are willing to devote what is necessary for team success.
  5. Climate of Collaboration – Team members must be able to trust one another by defining common values, sharing information, and perception and feedback.
  6. Standards of Excellence – Teams that set high standards and apply pressure on itself continually improve performance.
  7. Recognition and Support – Teams must have the necessary resources and external support to be able to accomplish the main objectives, including various forms of recognition and incentives.
  8. Honorable Leadership – The team leader must be able to convey the objective in a way that inspires commitment and action. He must show trust and give members meaningful levels of responsibility, managing poor performance and rewarding superior performance.

US Department of Justice Strategies for Building Effective Work Teams