It’s no secret: Great teams are the foundation of great companies. But creating a great team isn’t just about putting a bunch of all-stars in a room and letting them loose. The 2004 United States Men’s Olympic basketball team taught us there’s much more to it.
On paper, it was a dream team, comprised of some of the hottest NBA talent at the time: Lebron James, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, Dwayne Wade, and Carmelo Anthony. With a roster like that, winning the gold seemed like a shoo-in.
But they lost, terribly, to countries such as Puerto Rico, Lithuania, and Argentina. NBC announcer Mike Breen described what went wrong: “You saw clearly that they just weren’t playing well together and they weren’t gelling. It was a struggle right from the get go.” Even though they had so much talent on their side, they didn’t play well as a team, and it cost them the gold.
This issue isn’t limited to sports teams. Google, a company known around the globe for having some of the most effective teams in tech, spent years analyzing what makes some teams better than others for their Aristotle study. Their findings? It’s less about who’s on the team and more about how well they work together.
Authors Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson proposed a model in 2001 called “Five Dynamics of Team Work and Collaboration.” They gathered insights from investigating 600 teams across various industries to answer the question, “What is an effective team?”
The resulting model features five layers or components that increase the likelihood of effectiveness:
Knowing team members in terms of their personality and strengths can help improve communication within organization. Strong teams consists of members with different talents, skills, backgrounds and ethnicity. This allows you to take advantage of the various strengths that each team member brings to the organization, while also shoring up deficiencies. Which is why knowing each other’s strengths is important in order to leverage them the right way. Find out your teams motives and strengths here!
Without a thorough understanding of your company’s goals, your team won’t pull in the same direction. You can also use the acronym SMART to ensure your goals are clear and realistic:
The word “safe” in this context doesn’t refer to physical safety but rather to the emotional safety that team members feel to make suggestions, give their ideas and, most importantly, fail without fearing judgment or retribution. When you create that kind of environment, your employees will be willing to go above and beyond without worrying about being ridiculed or belittled.
You’ve heard the old saying: “There’s no ‘I’ in team.” That means strong teams must learn how to solve problems together. Leverage each other’s strengths to find solution of your problem. leader must empower team to resolve issues and arrive at a consensus without needing to participate at each problem-solving stage. Giving employees the freedom to come up with creative solutions is one of the most effective team-building strategies. It boosts morale and also increases employee “buy-in.”
One of the most important elements of the team definition is evaluating performance to determine team effectiveness. This type of evaluation shouldn’t be confined solely to managerial review. It’s most effective when team members are able to self-evaluate. This provides the team with the opportunity to correct errors or, if necessary, change course.