Teamwork is about targeted deployment of people who, each with their differences, complement and strengthen each other in order to achieve results. Teamwork has to be structured and directed. Goals, roles and work arrangements need to be thoroughly explained, shared and accepted by every team member.
Team composition: the team is focused on a clearly defined set of activities, allowing the team members to jointly pursue a set of clearly defined results.
Specific team goals: no team without a common direction. In order to mould a group of individuals into a team, you need common goals: high, attainable targets, formulated in precise and comprehensible terms, and on which the team has a direct impact.
Who does what? Clearly defined roles. Clear expectations of each other, thoroughly discussed and shared, to avoid latent surprises. Who directs, who leads, who facilitates?
Clear agreements on how the team members work together. A clear decision-making process and the feeling of working together on a common project and/or goal are achieved by frequent communication, purposeful and planned consultation.
Relationship building and team building: working in a team is not easy. It calls for a number of (inter)personal skills such as assertive and effective communication, giving and receiving feedback, meeting skills, ability to handle feelings, engagement skills and decisiveness, problem-solving mindset, handling conflicts. The formation of a team and the development of a sense of togetherness follows certain group dynamic laws that cannot be ignored with impunity.
First, we create a secure framework and ensure that all team members are willing to talk.
Current dysfunctions and issues are brought out into the open in a candid way. The team process is guided by a pragmatic roadmap based on the theory of Patrick Lencioni. In his model, he describes five foundations that are necessary for a successful team.
Trust comes about by sharing experiences and personal stories. Naming each other’s personal contribution to the team also has a stimulating effect. Who is the person behind the functional role? Together we can quantify the strengths and potential pitfalls by using tools such as Belbin, Insights Discovery or MBTI.
An important next step is to acknowledge that tensions, conflicts and confrontations can be productive for the team. Teams that engage in confrontations can have productive and interesting meetings. They tap into ideas of all team members and derive benefit from them. They resolve real problems with each other and raise sensitive issues. How do we give and take feedback to and from each other? How do we interact with each other? Together with the team members we create the skills and the openness to dare and be able to discuss issues with each other at any time.
Commitment of every team member is about clarity and support. There is unity in the team. Always looking for consensus does not work, total agreement is impossible. Once all points of view have been heard and taken into account in the final decision, there is willingness to move on together. A fully endorsed decision-making process is an essential tool for a close-knit team.
Teams whose members hold each other accountable ensure that colleagues with a poorer performance record are urged to do better. Arrangements are reviewed and adjusted.
A team that focuses on collective results keeps performance-driven employees committed, minimizes individualistic behaviour, enjoys successes, and avoids being distracted. A clear compass, without a common direction, no team!