In effective teams, members possess the talent, knowledge, and experience needed to get the job done. If a particular competency is missing among the members, or if one or more individuals have weaknesses that could threaten the team's performance, recruit for the missing competencies or identify ways to strengthen those weaknesses.
Define a clear, common goal.
Members of a successful team can articulate a clear, shared purpose—in a concise way. Test for a clear, common goal with the elevator speech test. Take each team member aside and ask: "If you were traveling by elevator with our chief executive officer and she asked you what your team was working on, what would you say?
Define metrics for the goal.
Help your team specify its goal in terms of performance metrics. A good performance metric expresses how team members will know if they have achieved the team's goal and the time frame in which each objective will be achieved.
Also consider setting up performance metrics for interim milestones that team members can strive to achieve on their way to the larger objective.
Foster commitment to success.
In successful teams, members are committed to the goal. They feel motivated to do the necessary work and forge ahead even when the going gets tough. How can you tell if the members of your team are committed to the goal? They use language emphasising the communal effort, such as, "We are making good progress, but each of us needs to pick up the pace" or "Where do we stand with respect to our schedule?"
Commitment to a shared goal occurs more easily in small teams. Some team experts, therefore, recommend that teams have no more than ten members—and even fewer if the members demonstrate all the required competencies.
You can also enhance commitment through rewards. If team members understand that promotions, bonuses, or other rewards will come with their success in achieving the team goal, their commitment will intensify.
Ensure all members contribute and benefitFor a team to succeed, all its members—including the leader—must contribute to and support the goal. Team members who simply show up at meetings to render their opinions but do no substantive work impair team performance and demoralise active team members.
And just as each member must contribute to the team effort, each must also receive clear benefits. These may include:
The emotional or psychological satisfaction of doing interesting, stimulating, and meaningful work
A learning experience that will pay future career dividends
A bonus or pay raise
A title change through a promotion
Public recognition and credit that will position the team member for more interesting and rewarding work in the future
Cultivate a supportive environment.
All teams depend on larger groups, departments, divisions, and their entire organisation for resources, information, and assistance. If these surrounding entities are supportive, the team stands a better chance of success. If they're indifferent or hostile to the team and its goals, team effectiveness may suffer.
Here's how to create a supportive environment for your team:
Provide team protection: Protect your team from powerful managers and departments that, for whatever reason, don't back the team's effort.
Maintain a nonhierarchical structure: Resist any urge to force your team members to conform to a rigid hierarchical structure. They'll be more willing to share information and collaborate across the company and will also feel a greater sense of empowerment if they are not constrained by stiff reporting structures.
Encourage experience with team-based work: Facilitate team-based work whenever possible in your organisation Experience with such work generates insights into what works, how best to organise around a goal, and how to collaborate. Suggest that your company also provide training on team skills, such as listening, communicating with different kinds of people, and staying focused on common objectives.
Align behaviour through rewardsIn an aligned organisation everyone understands the enterprise's objectives and how his or her own operating unit or team supports that high-level objective. Everyone works in the same direction, toward the same end.
In an aligned team, the team goals support the organisation's goals, and each member's goals align—through the team—with those high-level objectives. Equally important, rewards support this alignment.
Compensation of the team leader and individual members should likewise be influenced by team outcomes.