Teamwork : How to Build a Stronger, Well-Organized Team

David Wee is Founder & CEO of DW Associates and the Asia Speakers bureau. He is the primary developer of Entrepreneurial leadership and creating new space in a crowded market™. 

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It’s not how hard you have been hit.  It’s how you move on after you have been hit.

More and more often, employees are expected to contribute to the performance and success of their work teams. While it sounds great on paper, it isn't all that easy to work in a team, since often team members are different in style, attitude, commitment and work ethic. If you are a work team member, supervise, manage or lead a team, take a good look at these tips and hints which will make it easier for team members to contribute more productively to their teams, and decrease friction among team members.

Often teams get bogged down in blaming members when things go wrong. As a team member you can do two things to stop this wasteful and destructive team behavior. First, eliminate blaming language you may use. ‘It doesn’t work here, we have already tried it, the company will never agree.’ Replace blaming and finger-pointing comments or questions with a focus on solving problems, or preventing problems. Second, if other team members get into the blaming cycle, step in and "turn" the conversation back to a constructive approach. For example, here's a good phrase: "Ok, maybe we could save some time here by trying to ensure that the problem doesn't happen again, so what can we do to prevent it next time?"  It’s not how hard you have been hit.  It’s how you move on after you have been hit.

There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you are interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you are committed to doing something, you accept no excuses, only results.

In today's team-based organizations, winning the respect and cooperation of colleagues and staff members is critical if you want people to help you get things done.  You need to create a stronger well-organized team and foster an environment of cooperation to successfully complete complex and critical projects.

1. Consider the group's mission when selecting a team. Choose team members who have performance capabilities that are best suited for the task at hand—don't choose them based on existing relationships.

2. Put together a diverse team. Limiting the group to people with similar interests and skills will limit the final result. Recruit individuals who represent a mix of viewpoints and perceptions. If support is needed from various parts of the organization, select team members from these departments.

3. Identify the strengths of your team members. Ask members what tasks they feel they are most suited to accomplish in the project. That way when you delegate assignments you will know which members are best equipped, and most eager, to perform them.

4. Be clear about member responsibilities. Good teams have a multitude of complementary talents. Each person has strengths to bring to the team effort. All the members need to understand what is expected of them and what role they will play.

5. Focus, focus, focus. If you keep the unit pointed in the right direction, members will have a clear sense of direction. You need to communicate your team's vision each and every day and use it as a behavioral guide. To help them link their everyday actions to the vision, engage existing and new members in discussions about what they're doing and why.

6. Make all members accountable for team results. When the team is successful, they can share the glory; when the team is less than successful, they must share the consequences.

7. When someone does something well, applaud! You will make two people happy. Condition team members to believe they are part of a successful group. Be certain members know that their team is made up of winners, and that they wouldn't be there if they weren't winners, too.

8. Earn members' respect. People follow a leader they trust and respect. Carry through on promises. If you say that you'll do something, they want to know they can count on your word.

9.Get feedback about how to improve the team's performance. New members can often see things more clearly than insiders. Even if you disagree with member suggestions, let them know that you were glad to hear their ideas.

The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people. Don't join an easy crowd; you won't grow. Go where the expectations and the demands to perform are high. The few who do are the envy of the many who only watch.

Copyright 2007 David Wee

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