How to Build a Great Team at Work

Building a great team is part of every manager’s responsibilities. Even if a manager has no direct reports, it is still a primary responsibility to participate and contribute to the team or teams of which he or she is a member. Even virtual employees are part of a team and have their part to contribute to the organization’s success.

Teambuilding is not an event; it is a process. One-day Teambuilding Workshops can help, but unless the managers internalize the teambuilding concept, embrace its philosophy, and practice its principles, it goes nowhere.

Here are the main elements of building a great team that I have learned in over 30 years in business.

  1. A Team Culture has to start at the top of the organization. Upper management must define what teamwork means to the organization and then lead by example. Whatever team principles are espoused must be communicated verbally and in writing. Management must be sure to follow its own rules, or be perceived as giving lip service only.
  1. A Team Culture cannot flourish where managers are discouraged from sharing information and resources with one another and are rewarded based on individual efforts. Performance evaluations must emphasize teamwork behaviors and associated results.
  1. It does more harm than good to send people off to a seminar to learn how to do teambuilding if the new learning is not reinforced back on the job. Meaningful change does not happen overnight; it takes time to alter behavior. The desired new behaviors must be encouraged, rewarded, and communicated. Too many times a manager or supervisor returns from a seminar or workshop with lots of new ideas, only to be informed by his/her manager that “We can’t do that”, or “We don’t do it that way”, or “We haven’t got time for that.” The Teambuilding workbook goes on a shelf and begins to collect dust. Nothing changes.
  1. Building a team requires hiring and training the best people one can find. Great managers surround themselves with great employees, even if that means hiring people who are smarter than the manager. Poor managers hire poor employees. This tactic provides a ready scapegoat for when things go wrong, as well as providing the micro-manager with reasons why he has to do everything himself.
  1. Great team leaders communicate clearly; team members know exactly what is expected.
  1. Great team leaders give credit to the team for successes. They do not steal others’ ideas or claim individual credit for team accomplishments.
  1. Great team leaders make themselves available to help in any way they can.
  1. Great team leaders know when to use each type of decision making style and use each style appropriately.
  1. Great leaders provide direction when direction is needed and support when support is needed. They understand and practice situational leadership.
  1. Great leaders have learned how to analyze situations and flex their leadership style accordingly.