Effective teams don't just happen. It's up to the manager or team leader to set the stage for success. That includes guiding work teams toward the establishment of team goals and, ultimately, to a positive outcome. Here are some key points that can help you along the way.
Start by clarifying team objectives
Successful teams are driven by a deeply rooted sense of mission. Make sure everyone understands the mission right from the start. With this approach, shared team goals become more important than individual agendas. And these team objectives help bind a team together and keep it cohesive, even when obstacles or internal disagreements arise. When you establish team goals up front, the payoff is enhanced productivity later on.
Define individual responsibilities
To achieve the team goal, you also need agreement on how it will be accomplished, and individual responsibilities need to be well-defined. If they're not, productivity slows down as team members wait for more guidance. Or more dominant team members simply take charge. The ideal situation, of course, is for everyone to participate equally.
Help everyone participate
Sometimes, team leaders or managers need to step in to provide the right balance of participation. For example, try to make sure everyone has a chance to contribute by drawing out quieter or less-experienced members. You might ask for their opinions in meetings — or steer particular aspects of a project their way. Make it one of your team goals to ensure that everyone has a voice. It's generally fine for your top performers to take on a bigger role or more responsibility than others. But make sure this doesn't cause your star employees to feel overburdened — or make other team members feel squeezed out.
Remember some team meeting do's and don'ts
When leading a team meeting, keep the following guidelines in mind during the session: Do:
- Listen to everyone
- Play devil's advocate
- Propose solutions
- Prepare a meeting agenda and stay on track
- Ask open-ended questions
- Criticize others' ideas
- Be overly demanding
- Enforce your ideas
- Be a dictator