I love the song, Happy Together, by The Turtles. (Who could do anything but love that striped jacket?) In life, and in business, when the right things come together everything can indeed be happy. But finding ways to make it easier for work teams to be happy together – and also reach levels of high performance – requires diligence. It’s not just a roll of the dice, as the song says.
Just over a quarter (26%) of respondents to Brandon Hall Group’s 2014 Team Performance Study describe their organization as highly distributed, working in multiple geographies and locations. This adds a whole new level of complexity for managing teams. And focusing on team performance is more critical than ever. 24% of organizations surveyed said that their team dynamics were having a negative or extremely negative impact on their organizational culture and morale; 23% indicated a negative impact on engagement, and 20% said team dynamics are dragging down productivity and quality. That’s a lot of unhappy teams – and businesses.
Building great teams is hard. The biggest barrier for organizations is all the conflicting priorities they must juggle. What if, by focusing just a bit more effort on building effective teams, your organization could turn around a downward trend in morale, engagement, and quality? Imagine the impact. So what’s a busy leader to do? Here are three tips for enabling high-performing teams:
- Know thyself. As a leader or manager, seek to understand how you work with others. Whether through feedback from trusted colleagues and mentors, or more formal assessments, it’s important to understand how you prefer to communicate and receive information. When you know this about yourself, you come into a team situation armed with the information to help people work with you more effectively and how you might need to modify your default behaviors to work with them more effectively.
- Have a plan, but keep it simple. You don’t have to do trust falls or ropes courses or team building dinners to have an effective team. By simply having a clear plan of what the team’s goals are, what the expectations of individual members are, and a clear structure of how the team will communicate both successes and failures, you can nip many team derailers in the bud.
- Enable teams with tools. Social collaboration and constant communication are the norm today. Even when we sit in the same physical location we often IM, video chat, or leave social media messages for each other. For teams working on specific projects in particular, support them with the right kinds of tools to support communication, knowledge transfer, and measuring success. This may include file sharing, online collaboration spaces, video tools, and more. But don’t just invest in collaboration tools for their own sake – align them to the goals you’re trying to achieve.