Three Steps to Improve Team Effectiveness

High-performing teams are critical to business success in the era of hybrid work. Unfortunately, they are exceedingly rare. Only 11% of organizations have teams whose members understand their roles and trust each other to operate within team norms and objectives, according to Brandon Hall Group research. 

Effective teamwork — virtually, in-person or hybrid — is difficult to operationalize and measure and can be even more challenging to influence when things aren’t going well. 

Employees should understand the complexities and nuances of working within diverse teams because 69% of organizations surveyed said there will be a large or moderate increase in work done in cross-functional teams over the next few years. And 60% of organizations say at least half of team collaboration will be virtual. 

While organizations understand the importance of teams and team development, there are many competing training priorities. Few organizations believe they are in the position to excel through the use of teams. With the amount of teamwork expected to increase significantly over the next few years, now is the time to identify better ways to prepare employees to participate and lead in high-performing teams. 

What are the most important steps we can take to develop more people to participate in and lead high-performing teams? 

Give training on selecting team members based on diverse capabilities and experiences specific to the team mission. 

Excelling in selecting team members — especially for cross-functional and project teams and task forces — requires deep knowledge of employees’ capabilities. Most organizations lack full visibility on employee capabilities. They also must be able to compare capabilities and work styles to identify talents that complement each other and fit the business objectives of the team. 

Team selection is as much art as science. Too often, employers select team members based on performance and/or expertise and don’t fully understand how everyone will work together. Leaders involved in team selection often need more training on team dynamics so they have a better handle on how to make selection decisions. 

Provide training on effective team leadership and collaboration. 

Teams come together for many different purposes, with people of diverse backgrounds, experiences and levels of expertise. Depending upon one’s capabilities, a person could be a collaborator on one team and a leader on another, possibly at the same time. 

Therefore, employees must have a deep understanding of how to function in teams in a variety of roles. This is not easy, nor does it come naturally to many people. Continuous learning to help employees understand how to collaborate effectively in diverse situations with diverse colleagues is the only way teams can reach their potential. 

Provide resources to help teams define their values, goals, roles and operating principles. 

Each team is unique, with its own reason for being and its own goals and vision for success. Successful teams must have a firm understanding of how the team and its members should function. 

Team charters are a good way to introduce governance and ensure everyone understands the responsibilities of the team as a whole and as individual members. You can find more on team governance here. Employers should have on-demand resources available to help with team selection, governance and operations to reinforce training and promote consistency. 

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