As a leader, I believe that you are only as good as the team that surrounds you. After all, you can’t do it all yourself. As Vince Lombardi once said, "Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."
Teamwork is critically important. In fact, research shows that 97 percent of employees and executives believe lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project. So what can you do? Simply focus more on making sure your teams are effective.
Here are six tools for building effective teams.
1. Interview and hire well.
The team is only as good as their respective parts. To be blunt, I meet many leaders across the country who are not skilled at interviewing. Two aspects that will immediately improve your interviewing results are having a comprehensive interview process that includes at least three interviews and asking open-ended questions to uncover skills, competencies, and attitudes.
When you interview a candidate multiple times, they are less likely to fool you in the interview. Your goal before hiring is to get past the façade and find out who the candidate really is and if they are a fit for your organization.
2. Have an orientation.
In my mind, orientation should be a process, not just a class. Design a 60-day process where new team members feel welcome, learn their job responsibilities and get to know other team members. Years ago, I worked for a company and on my first day of employment, my boss was out of town and no one knew I was starting. I see many cases where there is no orientation for new team members. Many times new employees are told, “I am going to have you just follow Frederica around for a week.” Orientation should be on purpose, not accidental. Make a concerted effort to make new team members feel welcome immediately after hiring them.
3. Team meetings matter.
I once had a client who called me and said his group was a "team" but didn’t feel very much like a team. Part of the problem was the team members were located in 21 different offices. I asked how often they met. His answer was “never.” I don’t believe that a team can be effective if they are never together. Have consistent team meetings. It will build a sense of Esprit de corps.
4. Have a team mission statement.
Many companies have mission and vision statements, but sometimes, it's too global and too far removed from employees' day to day work. Think about creating a team mission and vision statement that is aligned with the company one. If you manage the logistics team, how can you have a team mission that supports the larger company mission?
5. Have team goals.
One way to bond a team together and get them on the same page is to have team goals. I am not saying people shouldn’t have individual goals, but they should also have team goals. Those should be monitored, measured, and communicated throughout the year.
6. Decide on team guidelines.
Have a team meeting and let members discuss how they are going to work together. For example, they may say "always treat each other with respect.” That is a start, but don’t stop there. Ask what would respect look like? What would respect sound like? Create behavioral guidelines as a group. "Remember, teamwork begins by building trust," said writer Patrick Lencioni. "And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability."
Make note, this is not you telling them how they will interact, it's them deciding for themselves how they will interact. That way, there is much more buy-in.
Want your team to perform at a higher level? Start working on it today. As Steve Jobs once said, "Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”