There is a lot of research about how to create effective and successful teams. A critical first step is something we already believe in strongly for successful organizations as a whole: make sure every team member understands their role and how it fits in with and aligns to the bigger picture of what you are trying to achieve. For a team, this might be a project or discrete set of outcomes. For the organization, this means alignment with a strategic plan that everyone not only knows exists but understands and is committed to.
Teams also can’t overlook the more logistical aspects of ensuring everyone knows who is assigned which tasks, what the deadlines and priorities are, and what the overall purpose of the work is.
Make sure team members are assigned to roles that best fit their strengths. An analogy we love when talking to organizations about teams as well as performance management is that force-fitting people into roles that do not suit their talents is like taking a LeBron James and asking him to become the world’s best swimmer. He may have some success, but you’re missing out on letting him shine by demonstrating his true talent. Gathering a group with diverse skills and strengths will also serve you well. In other words, to use another sports analogy, the baseball team can’t only be filled with player who can hit. We need pitchers and fielders as well.
Successful teams meet to collaborate, problem solve and learn by doing. Teams who feel safe to take risks and make some mistakes will come up with the most innovative and creative solutions. Lessons learned from missteps often create the pathway to ultimate success. Most importantly, trust your team to achieve what you asked them to do. Nothing kills momentum like micromanaging. Let team members own the responsibility of playing a critical part in the work. It will likely inspire them!