5 Steps to Building an Effective Team
How many times have you heard the cliche “There is no ‘I’ in team?” Well, state Sen. Sam Slom doesn’t believe it. As a legislator and president and executive director of Small Business Hawaii, Slom has learned a thing or two about what it takes to build an effective team. Below, he shares some insights into why individual roles matter.
You can’t have an effective team without an effective leader. Informality and casualness are OK as long as everyone recognizes the leader as such; not necessarily a buddy, or a pal, but someone every team member has confidence in and is willing to respect and follow. Respect is earned, not required. Leadership and management are not the same, even though often used interchangeably.
There must be a shared vision, and a common set of goals and objectives for a team to exist. The vision includes a clear, defined and understood mission and each person’s role and responsibility in realizing that vision. It includes incentives and creativity to operate the business for the benefit of the clientele served. The vision must also be long term, but realistic as well, and reviewed and amended as necessary.
No matter how good the leadership, mission and day-to-day operations of the business, if effective two-way communication does not exist, the team will not be effective. Miscommunication and assumptions can be the death knell of the team concept. Perception is reality, so that direct communication needs to mesh with every team member’s understanding of what is required and what is actually happening.
People do a better job if they genuinely and passionately enjoy what they are doing. An effective team looks forward to coming to work, meeting and solving challenges and embracing change. There has to be a passion for the job, and part of this is developed during the hiring and/or training process. Enthusiasm is contagious; so is lackluster interest. Just like in interpersonal relationships, passion needs to be kept vibrant and renewed.
The old saw is, “There is no ‘I’ in team,” but the fact is, a team is made up of individuals. To deny or try to subvert that individuality is to weaken the team. An effective effort recognizes individual strengths and provides strong motivation and incentive for transferring some of that individual energy to the focus of the firm. Compensation, benefits and other perks are important to any job and the willingness to be a team player, but all surveys have shown that every employee still appreciates personal recognition for tasks accomplished.
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