What are the 5 Steps for Effective Teams at Workplace?

effective teams

What are we talking about in this article?

Managers have one of the toughest jobs out there: building great and effective teams. If you ever had to work with a randomly selected group of people you know just how hard collaboration can be. Since the market, and the world, are becoming more complex every day, teamwork is a must. To carry projects up to the desired quality and time standards high-performing teams need to work together like gears in a well-oiled machine: efficient, harmonious, and dependable.

Given the cultural changes the new generations are bringing to the table, it is only natural that the shape of our teams and roles change too. Great teams encourage each other to excel and to keep going, even when the goals are hard to reach and will require many hours of work. Collaboration is a current and crucial staple of the corporate world, of small independent enterprises, and even entrepreneurial operations. The shift towards cooperation in every sphere of the working world can even be correlated with reports such as Deloitte’s yearly surveys.

In a said survey, we can see that young Millennials and Gen Zs keep showing they are a resilient group of diverse people, who can work extremely hard in less than likely scenarios. They are persistent, resourceful, have no fear of questioning the status quo, and demand respect and accountability. All of this, while embracing responsibility for their own activities. Of course, this doesn’t mean young employees will start wreaking havoc on corporate hierarchies, but why not take a moment to think about generating a company culture where these skills and characteristics become an asset to a common goal? 

As the younger generations are being incorporated into the workforce, it’s a great moment for companies and businesses to take a breath and reevaluate how they are managing their teams. Are they still using old methodologies? Are they giving enough attention to how they select team members?  We created a shortlist in order to help you improve your team-building skills.

Project Profitability

5 steps to build an Effective Team 

1. Define and understand your goal

The first step into creating an amazing team is knowing why you need it. This means defining clear goals that will be the purpose for the team, as well as stating the expected outcome and means to achieve it. Do you need to create, develop or improve something? Great! Write the goal in a transparent way, think about how many team members you will need, and what purpose each of them will fulfill.

The mission of the team will act as a guiding force when hurdles appear. It will become an inspiration and foundation for any tough decision, as well as an overarching direction. Successful teamwork doesn’t mean there won’t be any challenges, it means that overcoming them won’t be incapacitating, and a shared commitment is an excellent bonding agent.

In this phase you will need to answer some important questions: 

  • What will the team create by the end of the project? How will it help the company?
  • What will a successful outcome look like?
  • What needs to be done for the project to be completed?
  • How is progress going to be measured?
  • Why is this project a team endeavor?
  • Why is a team contribution necessary? 
  • Does the team have a different opinion on how to achieve the goals?

 

The definition of the project goals should be simple, and clear. The team must incorporate it, and if there’s not a positive consensus, it is permeable to modifications. The important aspect is that it needs to be defined before the start of the project.  

Soft Skill: Communication

While regarding the team needs and who could be a good asset to the new team, you can also start thinking about the soft skills a successful team will use in their way to their goal. Setting effective lines of communication is the most important part of team cohesion and involves consistently updating individual members and not assuming that everyone has the same information. Being a good communicator also means being a good listener. By listening to other members of the team you show them respect, which is a basic trust-building methodology. Offering encouragement also goes a long way to getting the best out of team members. Collaborating and being transparent to new ideas are ingredients for a harmonious team environment.

2. Select the members and assign roles & responsibilities

Now’s the time to evaluate which individuals are the ideal candidates that will embrace the mission and carry out the project passionately. Who can contribute to it in a meaningful and motivating way? Team members should trust, respect, and support each other. This means thinking about how each collaborator’s skills and abilities will complement in a cohesive manner. 

Having a wide range of diverse viewpoints and ideas will come in handy when any problems arise, providing a complex mind frame to analyze how to move forward. Having a balanced set of skill sets and personality styles will enable the group to work harmoniously while allowing them to challenge each other when needed. This can mean different ages, different cultures, different soft skills, and different careers. Especially when the project will involve different areas of the business. 

Once you have the appropriate candidates you need to assign them their roles and responsibilities moving forth. It is of great importance that everybody knows what is expected of them, in order to develop accountability to the project and to each other. Transparent expectations pave the way to a sense of teams and trust.

One of the most important roles to define early on is who will take the Team Leader mantle. This member will be held accountable for the project’s results and achievements. They will also function as the official spokesperson for the team, informing stakeholders of any arising issue or even asking for more resources if needed. The facilitator’s role is also a key one. They will be responsible for guiding the progress, this can include managing agendas and schedules, taking the lead in team meetings, and making sure everything is running smoothly. 

Both of these roles can be taken by the same person. Here is where you need to pay special attention to each member’s soft skills and evaluate who they can complement each other. Maybe the project requires a strong team leader that can rise to the demands of the quality expected. If that individual is going to have to be strict, then maybe you need another member to take up the facilitator role, in order to give the team another support point. 

Soft Skill: Delegation and Transparency

Teams that work well together understand the strengths and weaknesses of each member and can use this knowledge in every stage of team development. One of the benefits of strong teamwork is that team leaders and members are good at identifying every aspect of a project and allocating tasks to the most appropriate team members. This is a must in this new landscape of home office, especially for remote teams.

Project Management

3. Appoint the general tasks

Once the team is selected, in a cohesive and complementary format, you need to break the scope of the project into smaller, more manageable tasks. Write an outline of the milestones of the project in order to get a general idea of what needs to be done by what dates. The team will need to flesh out the plan with the allocation of each individual task to a member, and into a shared schedule with set deadlines.

Assign the tasks to each part of the team, and make sure everyone is aware of their own responsibilities, and how they affect the overall arching narrative of the project’s life cycle. This is also the moment to consider other possible resources that will be needed, as an external graphic designer for a certain task. This needs to be added to the budget, alongside work hours, materials, physical space, support from other company areas, and, of course, money.

 This is also a good moment to go back to basics, and figure out the SMART goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

 

An example of a SMART goal can be a 10% reduction in development times. Depending on the current state of affairs, this can be something achievable within the scope of the general project. As well, as a measured goal.

Soft Skill: Ideas matter

When a team is comfortable with each other, then every individual collaborator feels more comfortable offering suggestions and ideas. And this can be the key to unlocking better problem-solving ideas. Creativity is an important part of any team’s success. A respectful and trusting team environment will not only enable colleagues to think more creatively but will lead to an increase in team effectiveness in decision making and brainstorming sessions.

4. Set expectations and guidelines

In order for the team to reach expectations, they need to know what you actually expect from them. You need to define a standard of workflow that tackles communication, collaboration, conflict, feedback. 

  • How will the team communicate? Declare the frequency expected, and the manner of carrying the conversation. Will the meetings be short and to the point? Will they be transparent? Do you want each team member to reply honestly? Will the facilitator lead the meeting? Let them know in order to help them set a cohesive pace.

 

  • Are contributions encouraged? In what manner or medium should team members share their ideas? How are these contributions going to be managed and valued?

 

  • What happens when there’s a point of conflict? How will the team carry out debates? How will the team be assured that this will be resolved in an appropriate manner?

 

  • Feedback: when will it be given? Is the team encouraged to give feedback on their team member’s tasks? How often? In what type of medium? 

 

This is a good opportunity to set some behavioral guidelines and ground rules. These are not meant to stifle or create a rigid working environment. They are meant to be a consensus for the whole team, and should be born from the team itself, or at least given the green light from them. These can be simple, for example setting the means of communication: no iMessage or WhatsApp for work purposes, setting clear boundaries for answering work-related emails. These types of ground rules are becoming more relevant nowadays, in the time of home office and hybrid work modes.

Soft Skill: Efficiency

A strong and productive team generates systems that allow them to collaborate efficiently to complete tasks in a timely manner. Through the experience of working together, colleagues can be aware of their own capabilities and the capabilities of the group in general and can organize the workload accordingly. This includes taking notice of the quirks and manners of the rest of the team. The small details can help in knowing who to delegate to, or who will do X task in less time, for example.

Time tracking & estimation

5. Measure and review

As we always say, data is one of the most valuable assets a team (or business) can have. And pairing data with support? That’s what makes a team unstoppable.

Regular reviews can be incorporated into what we mentioned before. You can achieve real performance accomplishments through this method, the reviews can be done one on one, or with the team as a whole. Here are some good starting questions:

  • How is the project going? Is it meeting your expectations?
  • What have you achieved as a team so far?
  • Have you learned anything new?
  • Is there something that can be improved upon? Is something not working as expected?

 

Another important aspect in the measurement phase is celebration and recognition. Making time to reward the accomplishments of the team can help to keep them motivated and working strongly towards the main goal and in between milestones. Think about appropriate ways to show some support and recognition. A simple, personal “thank you” mail, with a copy to their senior manager can go a long way. It can manifest in the form of a team lunch, or coffee run. The method in itself is inconsequential, the important thing to remember is that recognition should be consistent in reinforcing the support for the project and for the team itself.

Soft Skill: Support

Every company or business can have challenges, but having a strong team environment, with a clear team mission in place can act as a support mechanism for members. They can help each other improve their own KPIs while working together toward improving their professional development. Some companies really pay attention to this and even create exercises or seminars on team culture. Building trust and reliance on each other can be extremely important when facing a particular hurdle or if the team needs to deal with the loss of a team member while continuing to maintain productivity.

Where you are starting your business, or a master team builder or recruiter, you need to bring support to your employees. This means giving them the best tools to reach excellence. At COR we believe that transparency and collaboration are the new frontiers, as new generations are coming into the workforce, we have the chance of changing how we work, for the better. If you want to provide the best environment for working, while keeping up profitability and efficiency, take a look at how we can help you, and request a demo!

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