Building winning teams

Being a good leader can mean playing many different roles. One day you might be a coach, another day a conflict resolution specialist. And throughout it all, you have to be a good team player. So good in fact, that the entire team can evolve and move forwards.

Team development is crucial for each employee’s own personal development, and for company growth. So, for team leaders and business owners, knowing how to build and maintain a successful team is a key attribute.

Unfortunately, there’s no one size fits all solution when it comes to building a winning team. Team development is sometimes more an art than a science, and it requires a lot of trial and error to get results. But if mastered, team development can prove invaluable for any company in the long run.

The Numbers Behind Team Development

Team development leads directly to employee engagement. Employees that are helped in their development are 6 times as likely to be engaged at their workplace. Suffice to say, if they’re happy in a team, they’ll be happy at the workplace. In turn, this leads to 17% higher productivity.

But even if productivity stays the same, the science doesn’t lie. Innovation always comes from collaboration, as the Medici effect has proven time and time again.

And, given the profound impact it can have, it’s surprising how little team skills are discussed. Fewer than 20% of employers discuss “communication” when doing performance reviews. This is despite 75% thinking communication is important.

The Right Mindset For Team Development

In order to do team development, managers need to view each individual employee as unique. The greatest pitfall to good team development is the wrong mindset. If any manager doesn’t see their employees as complex human beings with their own desires, plans, pain points and aspirations, the whole process is doomed to fail.

On the other hand, if a leader sees their employees as they truly are, everything in this guide becomes easier. It’s not hard to give employees a platform, remunerate them fairly, and host team building exercises when there’s real rapport between a leader and their team.

A lot of managers think they already have this mindset and maybe they do. But, given the importance of getting this right, checking in and giving this the consideration it deserves is always a worthwhile exercise. 

One way to do this is to schedule some time to take a step back and ponder the entire team. Go through everything you know about each employee. Formulate something of a buyer persona for each team member. Maybe all the things you think of were things that were at the front of your mind already, but, chances are, taking this time will give you new insights into your team and what’s driving them.  

Giving A Platform To The People

For employees to feel like valued parts of a team, they need to be empowered. And the best way to offer that is by giving employees a voice – a platform to speak from. In real life, this can mean:

  • Hosting meetings in which they’re given ample time and encouragement to speak their mind.
  • Asking employees about their opinion, especially on projects they’re working on.
  • Accepting anonymous (or direct) feedback.
  • Truly taking in what the employees are suggesting. This isn’t difficult when they’re actually valued in the company.

The executive choices don’t have to always match what employees are suggesting. But for true team development, it’s crucial that their opinions are actually taken into account. If they’re refused, a justification should be given.

Clear And Effective Communication

Good communication is the cornerstone of teamwork. In turn, it should be a very important aspect for leaders that want to develop their team. But clear and effective communication is not as easy as we might assume. So the trick is to build a team with this skill in mind in the first place. And then, actually consider it in performance reviews, or as part of official company training.

Not to mention, leaders need to display clear and effective communication. They should be an example for employees, if they ever hope to inspire them and help them grow as a team.

Fun Times With The Team!

Team building exercises aren’t called that without reason. They help team members find common ground, discover shared values, and build rapport with each other. They also help strengthen the shared bond of a team, which makes them a must-have in the team development process.

And they don’t have to be elaborate. Team building exercises can be extremely valuable even if they’re a simple pizza lunch, a board game night, or any other idea where a team can come together, relax and get to know each other better.

Conflict Resolution Done Right

Conflict resolution is a delicate part of leadership, but it’s a crucial skill to master for effective team development. The detail of conflict resolution is a whole other article, but there are some good ways to get started on resolving conflict in your team. These include; 

  • Separate between conflict and abuse. If one employee is being abusive, that should be dealt with as an offense on their part, not as a shared guilt over the conflict.
  • Act as a mediator in the conflict. Don’t take sides and don’t spread judgment. 
  • Organize a sit-down with the parties involved. Make sure all of their needs are heard undisturbed.
  • Find the compromise. It may not be obvious at first, but there is nearly always a compromise to be found. 

In Conclusion

To do team development right, leaders need the right mindset. As long as employees are seen as the complex beings they are, the rest can come naturally. 

But managers aspiring to develop their team should remember it’s never straightforward. Human dynamics are complicated and each team member will respond to things in ways shaped by their own histories, personalities and motivations. With practice and patience however, we can develop the skills needed to build a winning team full of contented individuals.