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A high-functioning workgroup is a well-oiled machine that drives a profitable business. A dysfunctional team is easy to recognize with its suffering morale, poor work product and lack of cohesion. But what about a winning team? Your work crew seems to be on track, but are they operating at that coveted level of par excellence?
These ten signs of a successful team will help you discern whether your team has attained an optimal state of coherence. If your team hits all ten marks, then congratulations! Keep them moving in the same direction. A team that is close, but missing a few points, can shore up in these areas to propel them to new heights.
1) They Communicate Openly and Easily
One of the key signs of a successful team is communication. Communication is seamless within an effective working group. Workers readily share their ideas, solutions, opinions and insights with one another. They actively listen to each other. They take into account co-workers’ considerations in an impartial, unbiased way.
The team also updates one another on the progress of projects and tasks. They ask and answer questions for guidance. This open communication is encouraged and understood as a method for avoiding conflict and facilitating efficient collaboration.
2) They Keep Their Eyes on the Prize
The entire team understands their collective goals. They work day in and out towards meeting these objectives. It is not about keeping a score of who is doing what; it’s about getting the job done together. A clear path has been laid out before them by management so they appreciate where they are going and how they will get there via each worker’s contribution.
3) They Are Supportive and Encouraging
When someone needs a hand, the team is there to lend it. The group recognizes that they excel together and are only as strong as their weakest link. They work with the best interest of all in mind.
When a team member performs well, hits a deliverable or goes out of their way to help, the effort is celebrated. Achievements are routinely recognized. Constructive advice or criticism is also afforded, but less often, and always with the aim to improve performance.
4) They Give Each Other the Benefit of the Doubt
The team operates in good faith. They trust each other and give one another the benefit of the doubt if something is misstated, an oversight is made or a difference of opinion arises. They are not looking for a reason to lack confidence in each other. In fact, it is just the opposite.
If something does not go as intended due to another person’s efforts, they assume that it happened for a good reason. When mistakes are made, it is viewed as a learning lesson for everyone, not a finger-pointing activity at one person.
5) They Are Enthusiastic
You can feel this key sign of a successful team: enthusiasm. Whether your office is in person or virtual, the space is alive with concentrated excitement. There is plenty of good energy expended between teammates as they enthusiastically discuss shared tasks, collaborate on solving problems, elicit perspectives from each other and generally enjoy each other’s company.
6) They Are All for One and One for All
Each individual acts for the prosperity of the group, and conversely, the group acts for the advantage of every person. The team sees the collective good flow down to each employee, thereby strengthening group and individual work. While there is friendly competition, there are no self-serving agendas that undermine group effort.
7) They Pivot for Problems and Accept Changes
Even the most prepared teams will face unforeseen challenges. It’s a fact of life and business. When the group encounters problems, the ground under them does not fall. They maintain their composure and move into solution-oriented mode. Sound tactics are developed to mitigate the issues, without a cascade of adverse reactions.
One of the most underappreciated signs of a successful team is how they respond to change. A group of high performers realize that even the most well-developed strategies need adjustment occasionally, and receive these changes as a matter of course.
8) They Are Organized
It goes without saying that an effective team is an organized one. Systems are established for efficiencies at the unit level, while each worker has the responsibility of organizing their own workload. Again, the team - and especially management - are there to assist employees to optimize organizational skills, including:
Manager Tip: Have regular meetings with the team to review project timetables and deliverables - this may be a weekly “stand-up” meeting. Also, frequent one-on-one performance meetings with team members create an opportunity to learn about workload management and to offer resources, such as training, if the employee needs guidance.
9) They Are Aligned
When each team member is playing their role, things go off without a hitch. If there is an out-of-sync employee - whether due to lagging productivity, flagging enthusiasm or simply not fitting in - the misalignment is obvious. With a well-run team, the divergent part is usually more apparent than when everything is aligned and humming along as it should.
10) They Have Fun
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. This proverb was true when it originated hundreds of years ago and is just as relevant today. One of the biggest indicators of burnout and reduced productivity is when there is no joy in the work.
As their team leader, make employee well-being a centrepiece of your management techniques. Ensure that your reports not only get stress-reducing breaks and time off, but that fun is injected into their work routines.
There are plenty of entertaining and meaningful ways for the team to build camaraderie and get to know each other. Find some diversions that your team likes - because a team that laughs loudly together also works well together.