Effective teams don't just happen. It's up to the manager or team leader to set the stage for success and guide work teams toward the establishment of team goals and, ultimately, a positive outcome.
The Importance of Team Objectives
Every team needs to be driven by a deeply rooted sense of mission – shared team goals that are seen as more important than individual agendas. It is these team objectives that bind a team together and keep it cohesive even when obstacles or internal disagreements arise.
Taking time upfront to ensure everyone understands the mission and agrees on how it will be achieved can pay off with enhanced productivity later on.
An Unclear Team Goal and Other Issues
Besides not knowing the overall team goal, another common problem with teams is that the responsibilities of individual members or subsets are not always well defined. This can lead to inertia as participants wait for additional guidance, or the more dominant team members simply take charge. Both scenarios defeat the purpose of having a team. The ideal situation, of course, is for everyone to participate equally so that each person is just as invested as the next.
To ensure everyone has an opportunity to contribute, the team leader or manager may need to draw out certain individuals and ask for their input, especially in meetings, or steer particular aspects of a project their way.
Because teams often bring people from different company functions together, it's not uncommon for quieter or less experienced members to be overshadowed by more assertive ones. While it's OK if top performers take on more responsibility than others or participate more in team meetings, managers should make sure this doesn't cause other team members to feel squeezed out. Conversely, you also don't want your star employees to feel overburdened. Make it one of your team goals to ensure everyone has a voice.
Team leaders in small businesses should be aware of the following do’s and don'ts.
- 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