Our entire existence depends on building teams. Everything from giant corporations to small businesses to marriages to families to friendships each demands a high-performing team to succeed. If you want to increase your team’s effectiveness at work and home, then take charge and practice these powerful habits.
Here are 21 Real Life Habits for Success to help build your team.
“All winning teams are goal oriented. Teams like these win consistently because everyone connected with them concentrates on specific objectives.” Lou Holtz
1. DEFINE THE GOAL OF THE TEAM.
To become an effective team collectively, you must understand the goal individually. When a team meeting is scheduled, it is because a larger goal is set that one individual cannot achieve by themself. What is the goal of the team? Why has the team come together—to achieve what goal or objective? Your role as a team member is to become the problem-solving solution. Make it clear. Make it known. If you are part of a team and do not understand the goal, you must clarify it. It is essential that the team be reminded of the goal and the purpose or direction.
“Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Vince Lombardi
2. FULFILL YOUR OBLIGATION.
Give 100 percent of yourself. Do your absolute very best to do your part. Unless you do your part within the equation, then the equation will not work. You don’t have to be a renowned physicist to understand this concept. Just make it happen. You want to be named as the person when someone says: “I want that person on my team.” How do you make that happen? By being seen as someone who always follows through and can be relied upon to get the job done—a person who brings value to the team. If you are not fulfilling your obligations, don’t take on the responsibility in the first place. Unless you do your part within the equation, then the equation will not work. If you don’t fulfill your obligations, you will never be seen as a team leader or be asked to help in decision-making.
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Michael Jordan
3. DEFINE THE EXPECTATIONS OF ALL TEAM MEMBERS.
This also includes the team’s measurable objectives and each person’s role in that measurement. To create a team that works well, all members must know and agree on what it is they will contribute to the team’s purpose and what types of behaviors are appropriate. Put it in writing, review expectations at meetings, before large projects, and before new projects begin. When expectations are clearly defined, it takes all of the guesswork out of the equation. Take assumptions out of the equation by clearly defining expectations. Don’t make it an international mystery. Spell out what needs to be done, who needs to do it, why it needs to be done, and by when, how, and where.
4. TREAT EVERYONE AS IMPORTANT.
Most people are so busy in their own lives that they aren’t in the least bit interested in the lives of others. Why should they be? No one seems to be concerned for them! The truth is that your life will be beautifully enhanced by tuning into the lives of others. It would be hard to invent a better way to feel good about yourself. Be a facilitator of positivity within your team. Listen carefully to others; allow people to express their thoughts and feelings; listen.
5. EXPRESS AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT.
A team is ineffective unless it can discover and express inefficiencies within the team. Be open to informing others of ways to improve. Plan team-building activities to encourage communication and company culture. Also, be open to others sharing with you how you can improve. Unless you continually improve, you’ll be destined for the same old results. Avoid the common “ignore it, and it will go away” syndrome. Meet team improvements head-on. Cohesion cultivates leadership roles. When everyone is on the same page and can make decisions accordingly, You will grow and thrive as a group. When a member has become detrimental to the rest of the team, they are a detriment to team development. Sometimes improving a team’s goals means letting go of the weakest and most problematic people. These changes can be positive for everyone. think of this separation as an opportunity for them to grow personally and practice their own skillset of building teams. They may enjoy a different team culture and thrive under different leadership styles. It sure can be hard to cut someone. If you overcome the fear of disappointment and allow space for new growth, you may be surprised by your team’s success.
“We shall hang together, or assuredly, we shall hang separately.” Benjamin Franklin
6. EMPHASIZE SHARED GOALS.
Yes, it’s about you. Seriously! Deep down, we do what is in our own best interest. Yet, creating a powerful team requires a variation to that approach while not necessarily surrendering your personal goals. People are drawn closer together when they have a similar aim or when their goals can be mutually satisfied. The adage “You scratch my back; I’ll scratch your back” applies. Give attention to how your cooperative efforts can help one another achieve a higher level of success as opposed to doing it alone. Brainstorming with your team, whether in-person or virtually, can lead to some of your best work. Each of you has your own skill sets and perspectives. It is helpful to know what everyone’s shared goals are.
“The need to be right is the sign of a vulgar mind.” Albert Camus
7. ALLOW OTHERS TO BE RIGHT.
This does not mean you are a “yes” person. This does not mean someone wins or someone loses an argument. Giving someone else a chance to be genuinely heard and respected can be far more satisfying than attempting to convince someone that you are right and they are wrong. More accurately, communication breaks down, and eventually, that relationship diminishes. Take the higher view; allow others to speak their mind—and to be right.
“No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.” Andrew Carnegie
8. APPRECIATE YOUR TEAM MEMBERS.
Give credit when credit is due. Cite your sources, publicly applaud the ideas of others and recognize the people in your life that have helped you. There is never a time limit on recognizing the success of someone. Write them an email at the end of the day. Even if it is for something trivial. These small practices build a strong team. Also, don’t forget team members that may not work in the office. remote work is challenging, and your virtual teams deserve the same accolades as the ones in the office. A deep sense of admiration and respect is built when a person gives credit to others. The opposite occurs when a person claims all the credit for him or herself; people will go out of their way to sabotage another out of a severe lack of respect. Prevent lack of respect by giving respect and appreciation sincerely. William James, the father of American psychology, noted, “The deepest principle in human nature is craving to be appreciated.”
9. MAKE A VERBAL COMMITMENT TO FOLLOW THROUGH.
Let it be known—and of course— follow through. A fast way to demolish relationships, shatter credibility and disrespect yourself is by not following through when you say you are going to do something. If you have a doubt that you might not follow through with an appointment, task, or project, then don’t commit yourself. Clear communication is essential for every member of the team. If you even think that you might not be able to follow through with something, delegate that task to someone trying to move up in rank. However, a verbal or public commitment is a great way to help you follow through! It is also a great way to bring a team together when each person on the team verbally makes a pledge to the success of the team.
10. EMBRACE DIVERSITY WITHIN THE TEAM.
This habit can be tough. Running a marathon of 26.2 miles might be easier. Accept others for who they are, not for who you want them to be. This is far easier said than done. You might not want to sport purple hair, but maybe your son or daughter might. You might enjoy reading books while your significant other prefers to watch television. One of your co-workers talks really slowly, and you speak really fast. A key to increasing your acceptance is to remind yourself of how boring life would be if we were all alike! Equally as important are the varying ideas, perspectives, and insights needed to solve problems and achieve a team’s goals.
“Celebrate what you want to see more of.” Tom Peters
11. COMPLIMENT THE IDEAS AND WORK OF OTHER PEOPLE.
Acknowledge your friends and peers when they do a great job. Too often, people don’t compliment others for their contributions. It takes only a few seconds to offer an accolade or a few kind words of appreciation. Be diligent in building teams of people that encourage positivity. Tell your kids that you’re proud of them, thank someone for his or her keen insight, praise a diligent co-worker, and tell your spouse you appreciate his or her work. Say it out loud. Others are much more likely to help you if they feel their efforts are noticed.
“One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
12. BE AWARE OF THE INDIVIDUAL REALITIES OF OTHERS.
Take the time to tune into what really matters to others. Read between the lines. Think of the rights and feelings of others rather than your own. We tend to think in terms of our own reality, believing that it is the same reality others share. Learn how to adjust your communication style in order to appeal to your audience’s reality. A good way to understand a person’s reality is to ask yourself this question: “How does this person view the world and his or her place in it?” This is more of an appreciation of perspectives rather than a sell-out of ideals.
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Henry Ford
13. PICK A TEAM CAPTAIN.
Indecisiveness and chaos ensue when a team does not have a team captain. All sports teams have one because it helps the team. A team without a captain is like a body without a head. The team captain can change from project to project too. This allows each person on the team to learn how to be a team captain and the project management responsibilities that go with it. A team captain should be chosen based on that person’s strength in a given area. Prioritize building teams that are willing to be led by clear leaders. If a team is working on solving a computer issue, the best team captain might be someone who is a computer geek, not someone who does not even know how to use a computer. Before engaging on a team project, pick your team captain. Then, let that team captain lead.
14. ALLOW FOR CORDIAL AND HONEST DEBATE.
Disagreements, opposing opinions, and different viewpoints need to be encouraged. One way is not always the best way. Most likely, a combination of collective viewpoints leads to a stronger team. A team’s problems include name-calling, animosity, and fighting. This behavior is the opposite of building teams. Remember to be open-minded when differing viewpoints are shared. Yes, all team members must agree on the goal or objectives, but keep in mind that there are many ways to peel a potato. It is also best to keep debates and disagreements within the team behind closed doors. If there is dissension within the team, the only ones who need to know about it are those on the team.
15. KEEP COMMUNICATIONS OPEN AND ONGOING.
Who is on first base, second base, outfield, etc.? Roles change, circumstances arise, and contingency plans are in order. Open communication and mature communication skills help everyone on the team to execute what is expected and change within those expectations more effectively. Open communication allows for idea exchange, comradeship, and evolution. Open also in the sense of opening your ears, not your mouth. The best communicators are those that listen well. Frequent, ongoing, and open communication is a key component of Building teams and separates the good from the great.
16. APPLY THE SAME RULES AND STANDARDS TO EVERYONE.
What is good for one is good for all. Set the standards, norms, values, rules, constitution, milestones, and objectives. As soon as rules and standards apply only to a few, you create many problems within a team, and retention issues will arise. If some are able to be tardy and others are required to be on time, you have a problem. If you require a tidy workspace, that rule must apply to all. If a select few are relinquished from responsibility, others on the team will relinquish theirs. As the team captain or leader of a team, be diligent in holding everyone to the same standards.
“The toughest thing about the power of trust is that it’s very difficult to build and very easy to destroy.” Thomas J. Watson
17. FOSTER TRUST.
Trust is the main ingredient to successful teamwork. Trust is an undeniable belief, truth, or strength of someone or something. If you don’t have trust, you can’t create a team, build a team or sustain a team. Think of trust as the Super Glue that binds great teams together! If you recall a moment in time when you had unstoppable teamwork on your side, you will undoubtedly uncover trust. How do you create trust? One way to do it is to do or follow through on what you say you are going to perform. Words that best describe trust are confidence, reliability, fairness, honesty, responsibility, and honor.
18. MEASURE AND EVALUATE PERFORMANCE.
Measure and evaluate performance. Competency is usually governed by measurement. All team sports are evaluated by a winning score. Can you imagine a professional sports game that does not display a scoreboard? Business is evaluated by revenue. This habit makes the assumption that measurable objectives and performance expectations have already been outlined and clearly communicated. If not, define them. Put it in writing. Communicate performance standards over and over again. Let the numbers be known! Results are the bottom line. Keep records of performance. Review them on a regular basis.
19. INJECT NEW BLOOD.
Inviting new team members allows for greater strength. Succession is inevitable. Make it work for the greater good. Awareness of new members and recruitment is essential to the growth and development of building teams. New effective team members must be incorporated to make this habit bear fruit. Just like the many seeds in an apple. You need plenty to ensure possible candidates Succession planning must be at the forefront of every team if it wants to survive and thrive.
“Behind an able man, there are always other able men.” Chinese Proverb
20. KNOW THE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF YOUR TEAM.
Who is great at what? Who is mediocre or poor at what? Knowing this can make or break a team. Practice team building exercises. This is a great opportunity to see where your team shines and when they fall short. Think about it. Should a field goal kicker be a linebacker or a quarterback? No is the obvious answer. Avoid building teams with too many people with the same skill set. Put the right people in the right positions according to their personal strengths. If someone is great at outside sales, don’t put them in an administrative position, visa versa. Each person on your team has a unique strength; let them exploit their strength.
21. STRIVE FOR THE WIN/WIN RELATIONSHIP.
This doesn’t apply to building successful teams. Interpersonal relationships aren’t just about one person’s dedication. You know the drill, right? Relationships are built on win/win, not lose/win or lose/lose. Don’t be taken advantage of. Don’t take advantage of others. Every successful continued relationship is built on each party exchanging value with the other. If you are giving and not getting from a relationship, you are participating in a lose/win relationship. You are losing, and the other party is winning. Are you stuck in this trap? Are you the person who always has to lose or always has to win? If so, apply a win/win relationship to all of your interactions and watch how mutual respect and value-for-value reciprocity strengthens every aspect of your life. You can offer so many types of value, including, but limited to, money, respect, promotion, recognition, and appreciation. The best way to create a win/win relationship is to provide mutual value and respect.
How well you work within a team ultimately determines your success. Take the time to master these clear-cut habits so that you can experience a quantum leap in your personal and professional endeavors.
Now you know how to be a pro at building teams!
Best of success to you!