If you hire highly qualified individuals with the best skill set money can buy; you’ll have a great team, right? WRONG. Skill set has absolutely nothing to do with team success. Sure, they’ll be able to resolve technical issues better than some others can; however, can they be a good teacher to the rest of the team? Can they share their learning experiences with the team? Can they communicate effectively? Are they able to learn from other talented individuals? Do they collaborate well with everyone in the team? These are some very important questions to ask when it comes to uncovering whether or not your team works well together.
There are some key ingredients I have discovered to be fundamental to team success. My experience comes from many years of working within different industries, amongst people of different ages and with diverse attitudes.
Trust is a crucial aspect of any team. No one can ever build a relationship without trust. Trust makes us feel safe, wanted, and gives us a sense of belonging within the team. When individuals trust each other with tasks they are putting one hundred per cent of their belief in others to be able to complete the task. We are empowering them to make the right decisions to achieve the shared goal. When all members within a particular team build complete trust in each other, the collaboration goes to the next level. They are able to delegate efficiently and concentrate on their own goals without having to worry about others’ goals.
Trust is gradually built by using accountability, responsibility and helping each other. When a team is working to its full potential, each member trusts the other one hundred per cent. If the trust is low, the team operates below its potential and poor decisions are made. When engagement is low, work is duplicated as team members often spend time double checking others’ work. Once trust is built, the team increases productivity and peer “micromanagement” subsides.
When a team is working in total harmony, it gives you solutions rather than problems to solve. When a manager trusts team members with decision-making, human psychology takes over which has a significant flow-on benefit. If an employee is confident with the manager’s decision-making process and the trust level is high, they will think through the problem and provide suggestions to the manager. In return, members are recognised and praised for their proactive approach. This pleases the manager as well as the employee –one gets due recognition, and the other can feel proud to have an employee that provides solutions rather than generate re-work.
Responsibility is one of the key aspects of any role. Every single individual knows what they are responsible for in a business and what would happen to the business performance if they do not take ownership of their work. Once a project is introduced, they (should) know its purpose and the impact it will have if it were completed to a high standard. By giving an individual a project, trust is placed in them, which essentially highlights that they are the right person for the job. Responsibility is given to them to complete the project to the best of their ability.
The team must also realise when it is appropriate to transfer responsibility. For example, when someone is starting out and they become responsible for a task that only an experienced person would do, it puts them in a challenging situation. This has two positive effects – the person giving the responsibility builds confidence in the less experienced team member, and the person accepting the responsibility has the opportunity to build self-confidence through their work. As a result, positive energy is fueled between them resulting in a stronger team bond.
Accountability is often ignored or mismanaged in work environments. Typically, in a badly run team when a manager gives someone a task, they micromanage the team member until the task or project is complete. They continually seek updates throughout the project and expect to be kept in the loop. In a well-run team, there is no micromanagement and the team takes accountability to complete the project. A manager only hears about the project in progress meetings, upon completion and lessons learnt post-implementation reviews..
At Lindentech, the whole business is built around helping. We help clients achieve better results using technology, we help employees build better futures for themselves, and employees help our clients with their day to day IT issues. We are held accountable to be able to help if there are issues. A manager is held accountable if an employee is asking for help in a tough situation. They are there to help each other and learn from each other. Everyone has the very important task of learning from others and sharing their lessons amongst each other for the greater benefit of all. Moreover, a culture of learning helps keep the team challenged.
Every business needs to take risks. In a similar way, each team needs to take risks to be able to find success. When Steve Jobs first introduced the idea of a single button phone in 2006, his designers said it was a risky idea and it will not be well-received by the typical 3-to-10-button phone market at the time. This was a massive risk for Jobs to take in order to find success. The team at Apple took several designs to Jobs and took risks about what he would and wouldn’t like. Eventually one round button at the bottom took the cake.
Similarly, risks need to be taken in smaller teams on a smaller scale. A new way of doing things will always involve risk. If it is successful, it will pay dividends. Allowing your team to take risks and try new things is crucial to feed their curious brains. Humans are inquisitive by nature, if we don’t try new things and learn, our brains become stagnant. Introducing new processes, products and methods into the business allows the business to self-innovate and evolve.
The downside of course, is that taking risks can also end up costing time and money. Richard Branson has failed at more companies than succeeded in. The important point to make is that he learnt from every mistake he made and improved upon it every time. If your team takes risks and fails, it is proof that they’re trying their best to make things better. Providing they learn from their mistakes and are open to try a different approach next time, it is money and time well spent.
Collectively, trust, responsibility, accountability and risk-taking, are important factors in building a team that will help your business find success. It is the people that make the business successful, not the leaders.