“Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” –Vince Lombard
The importance of teamwork today is something that cannot be overstated. Teams exist in a broad spectrum of environments. You will find teams functioning in business whether working remotely or in an office setting, in community-based organizations, church groups, social groups, non-profits and more. The ability for individuals to work effectively in, and as, a team is an indispensable skill. The key word here is effective, because not every team is always effective.
What goes into building an effective team? In terms of this post, an effective team is defined as one that is able to deliver the desired results within the allocated amount of time. There are three things I consider essential to building an effective team. Of course, there are others, but these three I think are critical for building an effective team.
Commitment to a Common Purpose
It is important that everyone fully understands why the team exists. They must be passionate about and committed to the project being undertaken. They must be clear on what it is the team intends to accomplish, and by when they intend to accomplish it. There are no surprises and no hidden agendas. This is at the foundation of an effective team.
Something that is often overlooked in building effective teams is the personal values of the team members. It is very hard to commit to something that violates your personal values. Going through the process of determining your personal values is not something that everyone does, we all have them, but many times they are unconscious. Sometimes the reason why a team does not function effectively is because the personal values of one or more of the team members is being violated. A person who values freedom and creativity will have a hard time being part of a team where everything is structured and highly systematized. Determining if the members of the team have a value fit is important to the team’s effectiveness.
The third essential is ensuring the team has a complementary set of diverse skills. Each member understands why they are a part of the team, and what skills they bring to the project. The skill sets are complementary with each part contributing something of value. Ineffective teams happen because they often have one or two people carrying the load, which breeds stress, resentment, missed deliverables, and conflict in the team. Making sure that every member knows their role and has something of value to contribute makes for a more effective team.
These are the guidelines I use to decide if I am a good fit for a team or not. As noted, there is more to building an effective team than just the three elements mentioned here but remove any one of these and the effectiveness of the team can be severely hindered. Teamwork is here to stay, but not every team is a good fit. Make your choices wisely and be a part of something great.
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The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Greater Paterson OIC, its Board of Directors, or any other group or individual affiliated.