Frequent, open communication – Most team dysfunction is rooted in communication breakdowns, such as poor listening, interrupting, rambling, inability to get to the point, and simply not communicating frequently enough to create team cohesion.
Take time to create team cohesion – Relationships cannot develop in a vacuum. Spending less time together will not create stronger team bonds. Building effective team cohesion involves taking the time to get to know working styles, personalities, and preferences.
Give honest, regular feedback – Everyone on the team needs to get feedback in order to feel connected to the team effort. Even if that feedback is critical, the team member knows that their contributions are being noticed and evaluated. For the team to stay on track and avoid retreating into dysfunction, everyone needs to be talking with each other about expectations, goals, performance, and processes.
Build cooperation – In a strong team, individuals rely on each other to make processes and interactions function as planned. Strong teams root out uncooperative members and either replace them with people who will move the team process forward or coach them to more cooperative behavior.
Function democratically – In a strong team, every team member’s voice is heard. Each member of the team has a right to question the process, add input, and evaluate the progress of the team.
Assure team members are well trained – Any team is only as strong as its weakest member. Team members are expected to function in a specific role that has its own set of experience and knowledge requirements. Newer members of the team may bring less experience to the team effort. They can make up this gap through training, education, study, and dedication. Assure team members have access to training that can help them contribute at their highest level.
Recognize strengths – It can be hard to see the strengths in other team members. In a business climate where appreciation is often in short supply, many of us get out of the habit of looking for the strengths in others. It takes a change in mindset to start seeing individuals in terms of what we admire and appreciate in them. Take time to give honest and sincere appreciation to team members.
Celebrate diversity – If we stop and think about it, most of us would be bored if we had to work with a team whose members all had the same personalities. Team interaction is much more stimulating and interesting when the team has a variety of personal styles and characteristics. When we celebrate our differences, we acknowledge that all of us are enriched by our opportunity to work together.
Manage results, not tasks – Ultimately, what matters is each team member’s contribution to the team’s goals and mission. Strong teams, with diverse personalities, learn to focus on the results each team member achieves, rather than trying to make individuals achieve the results in a certain way. This allows the individuals to express their personalities through their work and still contribute significantly to the team effort.
Leverage competitive spirit to create cooperation – Friendly competition generates results. Keep the competition between the team and its own past results, not between individual team members. Make competition exciting. Review past successes and find ways to positively challenge the team to exceed those results.