12 Steps To Creating An Effective Team

Posted Wednesday, April 14th, 2010. Filed Under Corporate - Tips/Tools Blog

While this is basic and many of you may know the steps below, it is a good reminder to refresh yourselves. Like driving a car, we tend to get into bad habits and forget certain “rules”. I prefer to look at them as opportunities to create the type of team(s) that you want in your businesses and most certainly in your life. This is a list that I put together with my business partner, Mitch Gordon, for our Youth/Student Work on life skills and transitioning into the workplace.

1. Set clear intentions and Goals – make sure you are on the same page. Ask questions to clarify if you are unclear. Having a clear intention and goal(s) will allow it to unfold more easily and quicker.

2. Collaboration – you will need to come together as a group to work together. This may include people that you may not get along with or have struggled to work with in past. You will need to find your common ground with this person and learn to honour and respect your difference of opinions. Learn to go with the flow.

3. Trust and Respect – when you work as a team closer relationships tend to form and you may share something more personal or in confidence. Out of respect for all team members keep this within the group. If there is a need to share the “experience” do not use names. Trust is something that when lost or compromised can impact future dealings and outcome. As well, if you are working on something that all parties in the group feel need to be kept quieter until a certain point and time when the full idea or concept will be presented with data, facts and knowledge to support it, then learn to respect this request.

4. Defined Roles – Authenticity – When you come together as a team, it is important to find what your strength is for the team; how best you can serve this team. Be true to who you are and state that clearly to the group and the leader. If your strengths are similar to another members then decide how you will continue and who will take on what role. This allows the team to move forward with clarity and knowing -WHO IS DOING WHAT. Finding your strength may be your challenge. To determine this take a look at what you like, what makes you feel good. I start with a piece of paper and draw a circle and put you in the center. Around the circle I draw spokes coming out and each spoke is something that I like. For instance, I like to work with people, I like to empower people, I like to speak, I like to facilitate. Whatever is your likes write them down in words or phrases. Then step back and see what you are being drawn to – the more creative part of the process – marketing, communications, PR, events OR perhaps numbers, analysing, working alone and so on.
Be aware in your group you will have people will different personalities. The leader will need to consider how he/she will deal with the different personality types and ways to draw out their best and continue to move the team along towards the agreed intention and goal(s).

5. Time To Lead/Time To Follow – the sign of a great leader is that he or she knows when to lead and drive the team towards the intention or goal(s) and when to follow, that is sit back and listen. This role requires putting your EGO aside and allowing others to shine and be their best. As a leader you will empower them to do so; you will inspire them to go beyond their comfort zone knowing how far you can push them. You may see the greatness in someone that they themselves cannot see. And guess what, they may fall down the first time, like a baby learning to walk, however you will encourage them to get right back up and gently guide them back. Eventually this person will not only be taking steps — they may be sprinting. A great leader takes a person to a place that may be beyond their own greatness and if you can recognize this and encourage them to continue on then you have served your role as a leader. I also feel that a great teacher and leader learns from their “students”. Life is about learning even if it is, DAMN I’VE DONE A GOOD JOB! To become a great leader means failing, learning from these errors, moving forward on your path and keep going.

6. Be Accountable & Responsible – We are in a world where this has gone by the wayside. For so long people, governments, our systems: political, economic, legal, medical, education – have not been held accountable and responsible for their actions. Only when there is a crisis do we seem to respond and even then it becomes a game of pointing fingers: the blame game.

Thank goodness this is SLOWLY starting to change. It must change. We can no longer go with status quo or this is the way it has always been done. Things need to change and now!

That means being accountable and responsible for your actions/work. When you say you will do something then do it. If you mess up, make a mistake, then take your responsibility and learn from your errors, regroup and change what you need to change. Then do it again – differently.

Being accountable and responsible to your team means showing up on time, doing your work, supporting your fellow team members, and giving 100% of you.

7. Decide If It Is Consensus or Majority Rule – this simply means putting a system in place that works for the team. If you decide that majority rules than your idea may or may not be accepted by the group and you need to live with that. Let it go. It will not always be your way and someone may build on your idea and come out with something that is even more effective and powerful.

8. Communication – This is key to the success of your team. As the leader you will need to figure out how your team members communicate and in “what language” do they speak. It may be very different from yours. This does not make it right or wrong – just different. Also recognize that people fall into different “personality” categories: some are more shy and you will need to draw out from them their ideas for they may be important and because the person is shy they may not readily do so. As you build your trust and the relationship this will be easier for you can start with common ground. There are members that have a dominant personality and want to push their ideas on everyone. It is important to validate their opinion as the person’s while gently reminding or guiding them to be aware of other peoples’ opinion. There is the one who wants to hold onto “old ways” and resist change. As the leader you need to address their fears, find out what still works and carry that forward and then show them how new ways will bring about an even better result than before. Making this person part of the change process will reduce fear and empower that person. They can go on to be the one to share this method or idea. The adversarial or saboteur – it is important to hear what this person has to say and then find a way to neutralize or take away learning to create what you do want. As a leader, especially where creativity and innovation is so important in differentiating us from the rest, you will want to find ways to neutralize this person. One way is for the team members to speak their truth and to remind this person that while their strengths are valued that the other members do not agree with this persons outlook/opinion. For too long it is the small group of adversarial people that have been allowed to curtail or stop innovative ideas from being brought to fruition. Empowering these people and finding a way to make them part of the change is one way. I will open this one up to others.

I can only share that when I want my son to do something or be part of something that he adamantly chooses not to – and for no apparent reason except that he doesn’t want to and he is stopping the rest of us from doing something that we want, I find a way to coax him in an area that I know that he likes – take his DS, bring the ipod, he can be the first to…, whatever it is to bring movement closer to what I want to achieve and do. Over time, sometimes longer and sometimes shorter, he will come around, and if not then I neutralize him by letting him play his DS and allowing us to enjoy our time.

In communicating it is important to share what is working and to make the team members know that their efforts are valued and recognized.

If there is a disagreement or something is said that is offensive to you, then it is imperative that this is dealt with immediately and directly with the person. You do not want to let things fester or start a “behind the scenes” movement to bring down this other person. If you feel that you cannot deal with this person alone, find a member, one that this person respects, and ask them to be a third party to make sure that you stay on track. This will give you the credibility to potentially be heard. The role of this person is to be neutral.

9. Accept Your Team Mate Will Do It Their Way – People need to do things their way and what makes sense for them. This means that it may differ from you or other team members. As the leader, you want to encourage people to follow what makes sense for them. Do not micromanage how your team members are doing their work. If the work is being done than praise this and even stay open to learning a new method or way of thinking and doing. When people feel comfortable in the way they are doing something then they will put more into their work and the outcome will be even better.
If you find someone struggling, rather than offering them advice on your method, ask if you can suggest a way that works for you. Share your experience/way and then allow this person to take this and make it their own – tweak it in a way that makes sense for them.

10. People Process Information Differently – People process information three ways:
Kinesthetic – through hands on feeling
Visual – seeing
Auditory – hearing

People likely have one dominant way. I am a visual person and need to see things written out for me to understand. This is really part of communication and discerning how people communicate. In your team you will need to determine the best way to communicate with one person. If you need to address your team, as the leader you may have to use a number of different methods in communicating the same idea.

This ties into communication – with technology being so advanced you have so many choices: email, msn, skype, voicemail, twitter, facebook — all social media for that matter — and then there is the person who needs the person to person communication – literally giving the person a pat on the back.

11. 100% Contribution – it means that you need to show up and give 100% of yourself.
In today’s world we are so fragmented and compartmentalized. We have lost the ability to be in the moment and enjoy that moment. In the business world if we are in a meeting and our mind starts to wander even for a second, you may miss a critical piece of information. This piece may be the part that directs the entire project one way. If this happens, do you stop and ask for this to be repeated or at least clarified that you heard correctly? I say, yes, please say yourself the embarrassment of ignorance and potentially going down a different path then is desired. In future you will need to make sure that you train your brain to shut down the outside or what I call, “distracting” things that take you away from being in the moment.

12. Win/Win – You want all parties of this group to feel that it has been a win/win; that all people in the team feel that they have walked away with something. If you create a win/lose atmosphere it can be destructive and debilitating to the team spirit and energy. There is not “I” in team and therefore it is not about “what’s in it for me”. If that happens the energy of the team falls and the results can be equally as devastating.

I hope you enjoyed this piece. Take what you will. If you want more info or suggestions on HOW TO … please let me know.

All my best,



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with sandra@2bempowered.com


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