“What is a team?” – A question that I was recently asked. Instantly, I jumped in to answer, “A group of people working towards a common purpose or goal.” Though when I started unpacking this answer, I came up against an obvious challenge. Whilst standing waiting on my usual train at Belfast Central Station, across the platform stood a group of 15-20 people, all waiting to get the train to Dublin. A group of people, all working towards the common purpose of going to Dublin on the train. This falls into our previous definition of a “Team”, but no one in their right mind would ever categorise this group of people as a team, would they? Here in lies the point of this blog, what is the ideal blue print to creating an effective and successful team.
Here are 5 keys to establishing a sustainable blueprint for team success.
Every team should grasp, understand, and be compelled by a joint vision. This is not a one-time, yearly, event, this can only be grasped through the constant and consistent communication, and action. I can assure you, a team without a clear vision, will soon crumple under its own weight! Establish a concise purpose for your team from the start, no matter the journey, it’s always far more effective to understand the destination before departing!
Next on your blueprint, one of the most important questions you can ever ask. Why? Why are you going there? This is the mission, the motivation and purpose of the journey. For me, this is one of the most vital aspects of this blueprint. Without purpose… Why? Why do what you do. Much of the time, this is the main component glossed over in many teams. Believing that you will get buy-in to your vision, without establishing a clear purpose, or Why, is futile!
Values are the rudder of your ship on this journey. The core values of your team, and the focus on a collaborative journey, will be your guide when the rubber hits the road. Values guide behaviour, so ensure you establish core team values before setting off on any journey. When it comes down to any question, or query about the focus of your team, always revert to your team values. Often, clearly communicated values can be the difference between a collaborative, or divided team.
Nothing is more important in a solid team than clearly defined goals. Goals are the milestones on your journey, either they tell you that you are heading in the right direction and getting closer to your overall vision and mission, or that you that you need to readjust something. Don’t be afraid of setting goals, often we fear missing goals that we set, but a goal that you fail to hit can be even more vital to your journey than a successful goal. The age-old rule that you “Can’t manage what you don’t measure” is as important here than ever.
Goals also allow you to ensure everyone is accountable in the team too, with clearly established goals, everyone should be aware of what role they play in the team, and what their core responsibilities are. Not only does this make managing people easier, but it provides your team with the motivation to impress, and prove their ability, or learn and develop key skills.
The final component of creating a blueprint for team success is setting expectations. This should be completely transparent, and encompass what is expected from an individual, and what they can expect from the team. Different teams, depending on their vision and mission, will require different expectations for success. This should be a group decision, and completing a simple task, like everyone writing out their top 10 expectations of a good team player are, then compiling the top 10 from the entire team as their core expectations, can make this an inclusive, clarifying, and valuable component.
There are many more components to establishing a solid team, but these 5 key points are a sure-fire way to establish the foundations of a successful team. Aspects like selecting, developing, and engaging team members, building your team, and leading your team come after this. But if you take your time to implement this blueprint first, you will have established a firm foundation on which to build a winning team!!