Are Teams Built to Last?

In order for a team to be happy and productive we have to understand the motivation.  The first of these is interesting work.  We want to be happy doing what we love.  Whether we are being compensated financially or rewarded as a part of our profession, we want to enjoy what it is we are tasked to do.  Interesting work encourages us to continually learn and grow, to move out of our comfort zone and remain active and focused.  Rarely will your team buy into the goals and objectives if the tasks are mundane and serve little to no value. 

Secondly, we are motivated as a team when we work in a high trust environment.  When we communicate openly with our stakeholders we create a play that includes more trust and motivation. Our team is made personally responsible for the results.  This increases motivation. I feel as though this is the most powerful tool of all to build competence and confidence in our team.  Giving important, challenging work to do, and then supporting the team when they do it. 

Lastly, a team is motivated by opportunity for personal growth and promotion.  Improved skill set and competency will impact their work and make them a better team member.  In addition, this will make them more valuable in the future. Ironically, money and working conditions rank lower of what motivates team members than personal worth. 

The dynamic nature of a team is fluid.  I find that the most critical component of a high functioning team is shared goals and objectives.  Each team member is clear about the expectations and can easily answer the question, “What exactly are we trying to accomplish?”  An awareness of the ideal vision and goal achievement is essential.  Teams functioning in this capacity seem to discuss, explain and agree on exactly what needs to be done. 

Being able to facilitate the discussion of, “What results are expected of us?”,  “What are we trying to do?”,  and “How are we going to go about doing it?” are critical to building a well-established team. Once you have this foundation you can then measure the progress and how the team will know if they are performing well.  In other words, you can’t hit a target that you can’t see. If team members are unclear about the results or how the results will be measured, they won’t perform well.  

Another quality of top teams is shared values, beliefs and principles. Living in harmony with your innermost values and convictions is essential to feeling good about yourself, your work and performing your best.  I feel confident that every human problem can be resolved with a return to values.  Can you identify yours? 

High performing teams also have shared plans.  Everyone has buy-in on the goal and goal achievement. Socrates stated, “We only learn something by dialoguing about it.” The best thing about team discussion is in the end, individual responsibility is clearly illuminated.  Everyone knows the expectations of themselves and others on the team. Shared ownership of a desired result leads to a feeling of mutual commitment and empowerment.  It makes individuals proud of themselves and their personal performance and happy to be a part of the larger team. 

Another quality of a high performing team is a visible and action oriented leader.  Continuous engagement with team leaders, encouragement and constructive feedback are essential. These top leaders are setting the standard by leading by example. Total responsibility rests in their lap.  They are loyal to the members of their team. These leaders run interference and ensures the team has the resources necessary to get the job done.  They don’t make excuses, they provide resolution. 

When evaluating your team follow these six easy steps:

  • Be aware of how you work and be critical about your own opportunities for improvement.
  • Get to know your team. Caring and understanding go a long way.
  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities.
  • Be proactive with feedback. This assures you’re on track, but more importantly improving each day.
  • Acknowledge and reward to create an environment of respect.
  • Always celebrate success! This goes beyond acknowledgement; this is about taking a step back and reflecting on what you have accomplished and learned throughout the journey. 

I hope you and your team are enjoying the journey and that the finish line is a fantastic celebration!

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