How To Build a Team in 12 Steps (Plus Purpose and Benefits)
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Many organisations thrive when they have strong teams of skilled professionals who can collaborate on projects and do so efficiently. Knowing how to create an effective team can help you utilise employees' strengths to achieve goals for the organisation. In this article, we explore the purpose of a team, why it's important to have an effective team and how to build a team for your organisation.
What is the purpose of a team?
The purpose of a team is to bring together professionals with varying skills and strengths to work together towards achieving a specific goal. A team is typically made up of one central leader and multiple team members. The leader sets and monitors goals, delegates tasks, mediates conflicts, guides ideation, allocates resources and reviews employee performance. Each team member has their own responsibilities in completing tasks, sharing ideas and meeting deadlines.
How to build a team
Follow these 12 steps on how to build a team effectively for your organisation:
1. Select diverse team members
Whether you're making a team of current employees or are hiring all team members, try to find professionals from different racial, ethnic, religious and other personal backgrounds. Such diversity can increase your team's ability to account for different customer or client needs and perspectives and establish a culture of acceptance.
If your team's work allows, you can also pick team members with varying skills, strengths and professional backgrounds. For example, if you're creating a software engineering team to create a new product, you likely won't need a marketing professional on the team. However, you may want software engineering professionals who are skilled in different coding languages, have varying experience developing certain programs and can serve in the roles you may fill, such as frontend development or quality assurance.
2. Place team members in roles they can be successful in
Once you've selected the employees you want on your team, you can then delegate each employee to tasks according to their strengths. For example, you might delegate quality assurance tasks to an employee who has previous experience in QA and another employee who has a record of high attention to detail and identifying errors. When people have tasks that appeal to their strengths, they're better able to complete the work accurately and efficiently, which can lead to better work and time management overall.
3. Establish expectations as soon as possible
Be sure to set your expectations on goals, team culture, team values and performance metrics at the beginning of your team's collaboration. You may host an onboarding meeting to outline the workflow and deadlines, discuss the values you want to guide your work and collaboration and review how everyone's going to be evaluated. Here are the items you can discuss in this early meeting:
Goals: Explain what the team needs to do, how they're going to do it and why they're doing it, so they understand how their work helps the team achieve their objectives. Then, show them what progress looks like at each stage.
Team culture: Be upfront about the kind of culture you want the team to have, and ask the team members for their input, too.
Team values: Outline the team values that guide your decisions, actions and intentions, such as respect, efficiency and a dedication to accuracy.
Evaluation: Talk about the evaluation processes for performance and goals, and explain the metrics you, as the leader, are using to make sure everyone's contributing.
Be as specific as possible when outlining each of these items so that all team members understand what the expectations are.
4. Remind the team of the expectations and goals
Even after your initial meeting, consider providing regular reminders of the team's goals and team culture expectations at meetings or in messages. This is to make sure everyone knows what's expected of them. This can also help members internalise the expectations, reducing the need for them to ask questions and alleviating confusion in the future.
5. Determine the best communication methods and practices
Establish guidelines for the best forms of communication and how team members are to use email, instant message, phone calls and in-person or virtual meetings. Also consider feedback from coworkers about their preferred mode of communication. For example, you may set a precedent of not using email to have important conversations between team members and having an in-person meeting instead.
6. Lead by example
As a leader, stay consistent on executing decisions and handling conflicts to uphold the culture and values you established. This can better encourage others to do the same. Examples include practising mindfulness, emotional intelligence and kindness as well as creating and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for disrespectful behaviour.
You can also use the most respectful interpretation (MRI) when speaking to others. This allows you to say anything to someone on the team, just in the most respectful way possible, such as prefacing a disagreement with questions getting to know the other person's perspective.
7. Use team-building exercises and events
Get to know your team members, and encourage them to get to know each other on a personal level, too. Promote team bonding, collaboration and communication by hosting the following team-building activities:
Social events: Schedule in-office, virtual or out-of-office social gatherings like happy hours or parties to allow them to get to know each other better.
Fundraising and community involvement activities: Bring the team together in achieving an honourable goal and connecting with their community through raising money for a charity, taking part in a food drive or volunteering at an organisation.
Collaborative exercises: These activities challenge teams to work together to solve a puzzle or create a fun project. Incorporate teamwork exercises into regular meetings or dedicate half-days to team outings.
Ice breaker activities: You can easily incorporate ice breakers, like fun get-to-know-you questions, into the beginnings of meetings.
8. Develop a culture of trust
While you can trust your team members to reach their goals, they may also trust you to support and guide them. Here are some ways to cultivate trust in your team:
Trust your team members to complete the tasks you have given them, and only follow up with them if they come to you with questions or concerns.
Give credit where credit is due.
Hold yourself and others equally accountable.
Exhibit dependability by doing what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it.
Pay attention to how team members work together and note where you see opportunities for improvement. Consider pairing team members up to develop close bonds and trust between pairs. Then switch the pairs every few weeks or months so that everyone can work alongside each other and eventually trust everyone.
9. Allow for brainstorming and collaborative problem-solving
Host meetings or brainstorming sessions to encourage people to share their ideas on how to improve the team or solve problems you have or may have in the future. You can also make time during regular meetings for everyone to collaborate on ideation, too. This can help your team with progress on projects as such sessions can be great for unique and creative ideas.
10. Reward good work
Let your team know you appreciate their time and effort to improve motivation, loyalty and dedication to quality. Here are reasons to reward teams:
When an individual team member or the whole team exceeds expectations
When the team meets their objectives
After the team works hard to reach a challenging objective
11. Encourage team members to grow
Allow team members to work on projects or tasks they want to gain more experience with. Provide opportunities for skill-building, education and training to allow team members to grow as professionals and become even better at their jobs. You can also cross-train people on different tasks so that if one element of the team's project needs additional help, you have other team members who can help complete those specialised tasks.
12. Review the team's success regularly
According to the guidelines and metrics you provided the team, assess the whole team's progress towards the objectives. Monitor the success of individual team members in their contributions as well. This can help you identify potential issues or find opportunities to reward hard work.
Why is having a strong team important?
Here are some of the benefits of having an effective team in the workplace:
Scalability: When your organisation has effective teams, it's better able to scale to more complex projects, meet the needs of more customers and clients and employ other effective professionals with whom to make more strong teams.
Diverse skill sets and perspectives: Strong teams are made up of multiple professionals from different backgrounds who have unique perspectives, ideas and strengths. This allows team members to rely on one another to meet goals, brainstorm and appeal to many customers' or clients' needs.
Better company culture: Having diverse backgrounds can allow an organisation to establish or improve a company culture that focuses on respect, acceptance, innovation and growth.
Innovation and creativity: With diverse ideas and perspectives, strong teams can better create innovative solutions and account for problems that haven't occurred yet. They are often better at brainstorming for brand new, creative ideas for product or service offerings, marketing and advertising campaigns and community-building initiatives.
Expedited learning and professional growth: Having strong teams made up of people with different skill sets and strengths can help all team members learn new skills, understand different perspectives and more quickly develop soft skills like collaboration and communication.
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