Creating Effective Teams

Many organizations focus on team building without a clear understanding of the process or an objective for achievement.  Instead team building is thought of as the warm feelings and productivity you get when everyone is working together in trust and harmony.  We talk of building our team, managing a team, or assembling a team in many different contexts.

Team building is more than a fuzzy feeling.  Team building is enabling a group of people to work together effectively toward a common goal.  The purpose of a team is the achievement of a common goal, including project based goals or the overall organizational goals that allow a business to thrive and succeed.

Creating an effective team goes beyond team building activities to establish trust and mutual respect among team members.  If you want to build effective teams within your organization or even create a total team culture for your organization certain things must happen.

Communicate Clear Goals

A team needs a clear, understandable goal to focus on.  These goals must be realistic and attainable, not vague and out of reach.  A project team must understand clearly their purpose and the expected outcomes they are working toward.  An organization needs a vision of the future of the company that inspires them and drives their efforts.

Without an understanding of their defined goals and objectives and a responsibility for expected outcomes, a team simply will not be effective.

Provide a Compelling Context

Effective teams need more than an understanding of team goals and expectations.  They need to understand why the goals are important to the organization.  They need to understand their place on the team and the value they bring.  They need a compelling context for their work.

If you are trying to build an organizational team culture, you must inspire your employees with a meaningful vision.  They need to believe strongly in the value of your products or services and the benefits their work brings to your customers and channel partners.

They must also understand the way they fit into the organization.  There is a reason why you hired each employee and their role is vital to the organization.  Make sure they understand both.

Gain Unified Commitment

Teams are built on commitment.  Each member of the team must be a willing and active participant who is committed to the common goals of the team in order for the team to be effective.  If someone is holding back or dragging their feet the entire team will feel the negativity and react accordingly.

The leader of a team, whether it is a project based team or even an organizational one, must gain the commitment of each member for the team to be effective.  Some people refuse to commit themselves and remain negative no matter how hard they are persuaded.  When all else fails this person should be removed from the team to maintain the productivity and synergy of the others.

Establish a Collaborative Climate

One of the most important dynamics of a team is trust and openness.  Nothing kills trust quicker than ignoring, limiting, or mocking the contributions of someone on the team.  Teams function best in a collaborative environment where each participant has the freedom to participate and offer value.

This is most important in a large, organizational team.  If your leadership style is micromanaging or authoritarian your attempts at team building will be unsuccessful.  Employees won’t believe they are part of a collaborative team.  Instead they will feel compelled to act within the controls you establish and try to meet goals without creativity or freedom.

How do you establish a collaborative climate while maintaining organizational control?  Demonstrate respect for people.  Listen to the opinions and ideas of the members of the team and consider them carefully.  Encourage contribution and communication.  When you make a decision, explain the motivations behind it and the justification for it so employees feel respected and understand the reasons behind your decisions.

Effective Teams Are Worth the Effort

When a group of people combine their unique skills and experience behind a common goal amazing things happen.  Problems are solved, creativity and innovation are in the air, and everyone is energized by achievement.  Go a step further than fun activities.  Work to build create a team atmosphere and take your organization to the next level.


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