Building a team is hard work, but the payoff of doing so is immense. When you build a high-performance team, you have a group of people invested in the success of your business and who you can rely on for advice or assistance when needed. This kind of synergy leads to better results, greater satisfaction at work, and a more enjoyable experience.
Managers know that teams are more productive, innovative, and creative than individuals, but building a high-performance team is challenging. So how can you build a team that will drive your business forward? Let’s look at some effective strategies for doing so.
1. Identify your team’s key needs and goals
First things first. When building a high-performance team, identify the key needs and goals for your team. A goal should be specific, so you know what you and your team are working toward. It should also be measurable so that your team knows when they’ve reached their target.
A good goal is also achievable. If it seems too easy or too hard to achieve with the resources available, there will be no reason for your team members to believe they’ll succeed. Goals should also be realistic. If it seems impossible from where you sit today, ask how much work needs to be done to get there. Finally, a smart goal has an end date — you need something tangible for people on your team to focus on reaching this point within a reasonable amount of time.
Keep these things in mind when determining goals for your organization and ensure those goals are well-defined. Skills and experience are one consideration but not the only ones. Consider other factors when selecting team members: motivation, personality traits (such as optimism), willingness to work together and learn new things — even curiosity or interest in trying new things.
2. Make sure you have all the skills your team needs
As the leader of a team, you are responsible for hiring the best people. This means not only finding individuals who have the skills to do the job, but also ensuring there are diverse perspectives and opinions. One way to accomplish this is to hire people from an underrepresented group (e.g., women, minorities) or someone with a different background than your other employees (e.g., if most of your leadership team went to Harvard Business School but one person didn’t). Diversity is important for teams because it introduces new ideas.
Training is also important so that new members feel comfortable in their roles and know how to contribute. That said, it’s important not to micromanage every employee. Give your staff room to grow into their roles as they learn more about what they need to do at each stage. Don’t expect them to hit targets immediately.
3. Commit to and foster teamwork
Commit to teamwork. A team is not a group of people who just happen to work together. It is a group of unique people who are committed to working together toward a common goal, a shared vision. When everyone on your team has this same goal and works together to achieve it, the result will be success. If one person isn’t pulling their weight or working toward the same goal as everyone else, the entire team suffers.
This kind of commitment and willingness to work together doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need to establish trust with your colleagues, so they know you are someone they can count on when things get tough or when there’s an emergency.
4. Listen, listen, and listen some more
Listening is an essential skill for leaders. To build a strong team, you need to learn how to be a better listener. To truly listen, you must understand the meaning behind what someone is saying and their underlying emotions. When someone speaks to you about a problem or concern, pay attention not only to what they say but also to how they say it. What words do they emphasize? What emotion do the inflections in their voice imply? Understand the context behind others’ words, so you can understand potential problems early and keep the team on track.
5. Use positive reinforcement to build confidence
When someone on the team does something well, recognize it. A simple “thank you” or “good job” goes a long way toward motivating team members to repeat the behavior. Use positive reinforcement sparingly, though — you don’t want it to seem like you’re handing out candy whenever someone sneezes in the office. You also don’t want people to expect praise every time they do something right.
If you overdo the compliments or praise, people will feel like they need constant validation before they can do anything. This makes them less capable of working independently without positive reinforcement.
6. Encourage everyone to try new things, even if they fail
The more a person tries new approaches and explores new ideas, the more valuable their contributions become. The only way to get better at something is to do it often and fail along the way. That’s why it’s important not to discourage team members from trying new things or failing early in their careers. It can still lead to success later. Encouraging people to try new things also helps foster an environment where learning can happen organically without fear or judgment.
7. Ask for feedback and find ways to incorporate what you learn into your leadership style
Asking for feedback from the team is always a good idea, but it’s especially important when building a high-performance team. Ask for feedback regularly, such as once a month. And don’t be afraid to change your leadership style when people give you constructive criticism. If someone says, “You are hard on us sometimes” or “Your standards are too high,” take that comment seriously and adjust appropriately. Be open to and ready to learn from feedback.
When you put in the hard work of building a team, everyone benefits. Employees are happier and more productive. Customers are satisfied because they get better service, and your company is more profitable. It all starts with finding people who share your vision and values. When the right people come together with common goals in mind, they can accomplish far more than any individual could on his or her own. That’s the power of teams. Are you ready to build one?