The nature of teamwork is changing, with teams increasingly diverse, and, if working remotely, dispersed. A business is only as good as the team or teams working to fulfil its goals and complete its strategic plan.
However, the core basics of what makes for an effective team remain unchanged, because, ultimately, teams are about people working together.
Two key elements shape teams: the climate in which they operate, and the process determining how they work.
A Climate of Cohesion
“For teamwork to be effective, it must have the right climate,” explains Melinda Beckett-Hughes of Ayuda. “And this climate comes from cohesion – how the team members relate to one another and work together.”
“It’s a people thing. Regardless of different backgrounds, ages, interests, the individuals in a group must be willing to get to know one another,” continues Melinda.
A team must foster a sense of openness, a willingness to embrace new ideas and diverse viewpoints.
“People need to be prepared to listen. And there must be a balance between individual expression and the cohesion of the group,” Melinda states.
“Trust is a vital element in creating the right climate. If people trust each other sufficiently, then they will feel free to share their own ideas and express how they feel”
“Honest but respectful self-disclosure is essential for cohesiveness,” says Melinda, “and along with this is personal accountability.”
At the same time the team should be mutually supportive, and have a sense of loyalty to its members.
Perfecting the Process
The right climate is essential, but so is how the team functions. An effective process comes from how the team understands its own internal dynamics in relation to its objectives.
“A team process comes from developing skills as individuals that feed into the group,” Melinda explains.
This involves individual accountability and responsibility, so that each person knows what they need to do to collaborate effectively with others in achieving the team’s wider objectives.
“Team members also need to learn to both give and receive constructive feedback so that the team’s ideas can develop, while being open to change. This is essential if the team is going to be ready to meet its challenges”
Part of the process is problem solving, and developing strategies to do this. This means finding the best means for both decision making in the team, and for resolving conflicts.
The management and organisation of teamwork must mean that the team members understand required roles, and who in the team is best suited to fill each one.
“The measure of a team’s effectiveness is not just in the accomplishment of its tasks, but also in how it functions as a unit, and how the individuals within it relate to one another”
“Teams can build cohesion by taking time out together from the normal work environment,” Melinda concludes. “Team retreats are an excellent way of helping people develop the cohesiveness they require to work together effectively as a team.”