In life, we often find ourselves having to work with other people in teams. Sometimes, we enjoy working in our teams, and sometimes we do not. This is usually tied to the success of the team— the better it does, the more we like it. Otherwise, it becomes loathsome. In the case of our best and favourite teams, we tend to be able to conjure reason after reason explaining their success. In the case of our less successful ones, we tend to relegate them to the domains of chance and nature. Rarely do we think that it could or would have been different from what had been. However, objectively, there are no logical reasons to explain why a team is good or bad. In truth, a team is only successful insofar as its members decide to make it so. In fact, it is possible to create a successful team, or turn an unsuccessful one around, and here are some tips to show you how:
Firstly, create a shared vision or common goal to work towards. A team does better if its members all have a common goal to work towards. Members would naturally align themselves towards it, and in working towards it, they will make compromises more readily, leading to fewer disputes, and, in general, greater productivity.
To do this, the leader must first understand what each individual wants to achieve. These individual objectives can be simple, such as wanting to earn higher wages, but can also be more complicated, such as wanting to work in an environment where everyone is motivated and puts the company before individual desires.
Once this has been done, a mutual aim can be established. First, by understanding what it is that the company ultimately wishes to achieve, such as higher sales or revenue. Following this, the leader needs to show his members how their individual aims dovetail with this ultimate goal, and how they will benefit by working towards it. After all, to quote Friedman, ‘The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests.’
Basically, once the goal is in place and members believe that working towards it will be to their own advantage, things will fall into place. However, any action or policy implemented must be relatable to the goal, and if it cannot be related to the goal, it should be re-evaluated.
Second, promote the formation of strong emotional ties between team members. This should be self-explanatory: people work better and are more likely to co-operate with one another and allow concessions if they are close to and trust one another; also, they will be more forgiving of others’ faults and mistakes. Not only will this prevent conflicts from arising in the midst of a project, emotionally bonded teams are able to weather through adversities without the team disintegrating unlike teams where members are emotionally distant from one another, and are thus far more resilient.
Achieving this is simple, yet cost effective. Organising occasional team building activities, holding meetings where after-action reviews are done, the possibilities are endless. However, the key is to ensure that every member feels appreciated and possesses a sense of purpose. Most importantly, not just feeling, but knowing that he belongs. No one wants to feel left out or useless, as though he is there just to make up for numbers.
Lastly, and most importantly, focus on each member’s strengths and see how they can complement others’ weaknesses. At first glance this may not sound possible considering how teams are oftentimes made up of anything but hand-picked individuals who have gone through a rigorous selection process. However, once we realise that individuals who excel at everything are tough to come by, and comprise but a minuscule fraction of the human race, it becomes rather more practical to focus on developing an individual’s strengths than to make any attempt at mitigating existing weaknesses. Besides, a person is likely to improve faster if doing something he is better at and therefore has a propensity to enjoy doing.
This is not a particularly trying feat. Theoretically, all one has to do is identify what an individual member’s strengths and weaknesses are, and match those strengths to weaknesses to another’s. For example, one person might be good at writing but chronically fearful of public speaking, while another is good at delivering presentations but horrible at drafting scripts. Thus, the former could draft a script for the latter who would then make the presentation. Each would therefore compensate for the other’s shortfall. However, reality is never this straightforward: it takes time to learn about people, and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Nonetheless, once a person’s strengths has been identified, all that has to be done is to develop them through training courses or other similar methods.
Ultimately, building a successful team is not an easy task. To do so requires time, patience, effort, and sometimes involves unfathomable depths of frustration and tears. However, as Jay Goldman said, “Nothing good for this world is ever attained without sacrifice. Nothing great in life is ever achieved without hard work. Nothing that we give to others, out of the goodness of our heart, is ever given without giving away a small piece of ourselves.” Building a successful team is as such; sometimes one just has to soldier on for a better tomorrow.