|Years of research into teams, and our own experience in working with many different groups, has shown that the following 10 characteristics are present in successful teams. These teams work well together, achieve their goals and enjoy themselves in the process. How does your team measure up?
1. Clear Purpose.
Members understand and are fully committed to the vision, mission, goals, and objectives of the team. Ineffective teams lack clarity of purpose, a plan and specific goals. Members wonder, wander and pull in different directions.
2. Open Communication.
Effective teams pride themselves on open, participatory communication and vigorous discussions. Ineffective teams are marked by gossip, hidden agendas and guarded communication.
3. Constructive Conflict.
On effective teams, there's disagreement, but members are comfortable with this and deal with it openly. There are very few signs of avoiding or suppressing conflict. Ineffective teams lack trust and are often undermined by personal disagreements and their inability to resolve conflict constructively.
4. Effective Problem Solving and Decision-making.
Approaches to problem solving and decision making are well established in effective teams. Ineffective teams lack problem-solving strategies and are stymied by inefficient decision-making processes and low quality decisions.
5. Defined Roles, Responsibilities and Accountability.
Roles, responsibilities, expectations and authorities are well defined, understood and accepted. Work is fairly distributed and skills are well represented with team members' abilities recognized and fully utilised. Team members are fully accountable for individual and collective team performance. Ineffective teams struggle with role conflict, unclear boundaries, confused expectations and poor accountability.
6. Strong Relationships.
Effective teams work on building and maintaining internal relationships. Team members are supportive; trust one another and have a lot of fun together. Members also invest in developing relationships and building credibility with important stakeholders in other parts of the organization. Poor collaboration, low morale, cliques and silos characterize ineffective teams.
7. Systems and Procedures.
Effective teams implement and support procedures to guide and regulate team functioning. Ineffective teams rarely invest in developing their team systems or improving work processes
8. Experimentation and Creativity.
Well functioning teams encourage creativity and risk taking and experiment with different ways of doing things. Ineffective teams often are bureaucratic, low risk and rigid.
9. Measurement and Self-assessment.
Effective teams have clear shared measures. They schedule time to regularly assess their progress and performance, identifying achievements and areas for improvement. Ineffective teams tend focus on individual measurement and rarely review their collective performance.
10. Shared Leadership.
Effective teams share leadership roles depending upon the circumstances, needs of the group, and expertise of members. The formal leader co-ordinates the integration of effective team functions and models appropriate behaviour to help establish positive norms. Ineffective teams often have one person dominating.
How to Work with This
- Schedule time to take your team through a self-assessment against this list.
- Use a simple 1-5 rating scale and then combine individual scores to identify and prioritise areas for improvement.
- Establish an action plan and set a timeframe to reconvene and review your progress