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4 Steps to build an effective team

BY: Brigitte Schwartz|18 July 2019
BLOG| Business leadership and strategy

“Talent wins games but teamwork and intelligence win championships” – Michael Jordan


Whether in the workplace or on the sports field, teamwork forms the foundation of a successful enterprise. Think of the South African Proteas cricket team... After a worrying 2019 World Cup, the team in its entirety – managers and coaches included – need to pull together, establish what went wrong and get ready to rebuild. It’ll take intelligence, teamwork and vision to once again become global masters of the game.


A good team leader not only successfully manages their team members but also understands their role as a leader and how this affects the output of their team. While hiring people at the top of their game is a clear sign of building a great team, leaders must take the wheel and ensure everyone remains focused on the shared strategy and vision. Easier said than done, right? Use our tried-and-tested tips to find your inner leader and build a team that lasts.



Create a roadmap

You need a clear vision and purpose for your team – and company at large. Be sure to involve all stakeholders in contributing to this and meeting the smaller milestones along the road to success. There’s that famous NASA anecdote of President JFK asking a janitor about his role… the janitor answered, “I’m helping put a man on the moon!” That’s what it’s all about.


Have a shared scorecard

Gameffective suggests you adopt a real-time monitoring system that is the same for everyone and provide feedback based on goals you set together with each team member. Enable your team to regularly measure their own performance against short-, medium- and long-term goals, and regularly affirm their progress.


Repeat, repeat, repeat

Having a plan or objective in place is only the beginning. You will need to constantly remind your team of the priorities and make sure they understand these. A weekly status update meeting or friendly posters outlining your key goals can go a long way to ensure everyone is on the same page.



Define your values

The foundation of any culture is the values upheld by its community. Whether your organisation has a culture that is issued to its employees (like this one at Netflix, which is introduced as early as when you apply for a job) or you allow your team to create a culture, you should highlight inclusivity, learning, open communication, problem-solving and respect for peers as top priorities. Keep values short, specific and non-negotiable.


Celebrate success (even the little things)

Sharing wins– no matter how small – can help strengthen your team. Highlight the success of team members at one of your monthly meetings or ask teammates to share their success stories. In addition to motivating your team, celebrating their successes also shows that you don’t take any hard work for granted and if you choose to recognise them publicly, it will also boost their self-esteem. Win!




Harvard Business Review and similar publications regularly delve into issues caused by bosses who don’t listen, micro-manage or steal credit for the team’s accomplishments. Respect is a two-way street and if you want your team members to give it to you, you’ll have to treat them with respect too. In an interview with The New York Times, Robin Domeniconi, CEO of Threaded Tales, uses MRI (“most respectful interpretation”) as a key pillar of her company’s culture: “I don’t need everyone to be best friends, but I need to have a team with M.R.I. so you can say anything to anyone, as long as you say it the right way”.


Be accountable (and hold others accountable too)

Respect is earned and team leaders need to hold individuals on their team accountable for their work. Make sure everyone is clear on their contribution to the team and lead by example by following through on any work you need to do. To accomplish a common objective, it’s important to remember why each team member is there and what their individual goals in the workplace are. If everyone delivers on their individual roles, the team will come out stronger.



Know your team

As a team leader, it’s important to get to know the people on your team, says Tallyfy. And it’s not just to celebrate birthdays, promotions and holidays but also to encourage camaraderie and develop relationships. By doing this, you’ll draw out the talent in each team member and motivate them to go beyond what is expected.


Set expectations

Bad habits are easy to pick up and can quickly snowball, even in the workplace. Good leaders know that providing frequent feedback allows employees to grow, says Forbes. Additionally, how you deliver your feedback also helps your team members become open to receiving constructive criticism and acting on it. If “feedback sessions” feel too formal or unpleasant, try having two-way “conversations” instead.


Give and take

Constant, proactive feedback is followed by acknowledgement and reward. Even a small comment like “great job on today’s presentation!” can go a long way. Take the time to reward your team when things go well by inviting them for lunch or giving everyone a gift. Small gestures such as this can be very effective. Also, be scrupulously fair with bonuses and pay increases – it’s competitive out there, so if you’re not paying your team fairly, they’re likely to leave.


Want to build a successful team of your own? SGI offers an online microlearning course called Teaming For A Purpose, which forms part of the National Certificate in Generic Management: General Management course. Teaming For A Purpose is aimed at second-tier managers, helping them understand the theory of teams, and how to build and improve the effectiveness of a team in order to meet an organisation’s goals and objectives.


Teaming for a purpose

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