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“No one can whistle a symphony.  It takes a whole orchestra to play it.”  – H.E. Luccock
Before a project even begins, many teams are set up for failure. Lack of support, unrealistic or ill-defined expectations and unclear roles can all sabotage even the most promising group. But by fostering a culture of collaboration, proactively mapping out the team’s goals and swiftly dealing with squabbles when they arise, you can build a team that not only works well together, but encourages people to forge a new cohesive path toward success.

Respect.

At the heart of every good team is a group of individuals who respect each other’s ideas, experience and opinions no matter how divergent they are. Offer team members equal time to contribute, and make sure everyone offers input. As a people leader, it is essential to set the example; remain respectful of everyone’s ideas and avoid talking over others or interrupting.

Diversity.

It may seem easier to group like-minded people, but it rarely produces the best results. Different ideas and viewpoints, though more challenging, can reveal overlooked issues or ideas and encourage innovation.

Clear goals, roles and planning.

What are the team’s goals? What is the individual role of each team member? What are the timelines? These questions may seem obvious, but many teams fail because their objectives and structure are never clearly defined. Individual members should know what their role and deliverables are. Team goals should be communicated from the outset or established by team members during the first meeting.

Context.

No team should function as an island, detached from the organization. Help members stay motivated and understand the value of their work by thoroughly explaining how their project fits into the greater organizational picture.

A culture of inclusion.

Keep the team updated, solicit and praise constructive input, and promote transparency. The more each individual feels part of the team, the more motivated they’ll be to help achieve team goals.

The right resources.

Teams that are too inexperienced, overburdened or unprepared for the project risk failure. Make sure your team has adequate tools, resources and manpower to succeed. Offer them additional help to develop the skills necessary to the team’s success.

Smaller teams.

Oversized groups can disincentivize individual investment and reduce enthusiasm for the team’s success. Generally, groups of four to ten people create an optimal level of camaraderie and personal responsibility for the teams results.

Guiding the Group to Success

Once you’ve laid the groundwork for a good team, it’s time to encourage them to stay on course. Keep the positive team spirit flowing by:

Encouraging open communication.

Remember that high school history teacher that revelled in your mistakes? Remember them having difficulty getting students to talk? If you want your team members to fully participate, you must foster a setting prone to open dialogue and constructive feedback. Positive and honest communication, where employees are unafraid to sound foolish or mistaken, encourages the team to bond and helps it remain focused.

Giving teams decision-making authority.

For a team to invest energy into the project, they need to have some decision-making power. If you are reluctant to hand over this kind of authority, remember that setting clear expectations, defining your goals and contextualizing the project beforehand will help team members make informed and intelligent choices.

Promoting inclusiveness.

Among the biggest leadership challenges is maintaining balance between extroverted team members and the more subdued participants. Prevent outspoken members from taking over and encourage shy teammates to speak up; solicit input from everyone and politely cap responses to a preset time limit. Those unable to attend a meeting should be updated; everyone should remain in the loop, regardless of immediate availability.

Getting into group activities.

Team activities, whether a workshop, lunch outing or fundraising event, can help build familiarity, trust and understanding between team members.

Promoting strengths and downplaying weaknesses.

Build team confidence and fortify each member’s confidence and commitment by highlighting collective and individual strengths. If a team member has difficulty keeping up, work together to find a solution to help them catch up.

Rewarding as a team.

The best teams work and celebrate together. Team incentives (as opposed to individual incentives) help create a dynamic push towards the team’s success. Group rewards encourage everyone to pitch in and can minimize or eliminate the negative impact of cutthroat competition amongst individuals.

Managing interactions.

Each member of the team is responsible for their individual actions within the group, but as the team leader, you must ensure the team’s dealings with one another are respectful, constructive, and contribute to the team’s objectives.

Highlights from an article by Shepell-fgi