Great Teams Are Worth The Effort

July 15, 2013
Have you ever been on a great team?
 
Maybe you haven’t won the NBA Finals but no one could touch your Little League team. Or maybe, it’s your team at work–always on budget, on time, producing great work and having fun while you do it. Great teams are a gift. Great teams are rare. Great teams are a lot of work…but worth it.
 
What does it take to build a great team? What does it take to be a great team member?
 
For the last two weeks I’ve been immersed in a really productive planning session with my team at work (hence the lack of writing). We went deep, really deep into everything we’re doing. We got a lot done but a more important by-product was a great team building week. After seventeen trust-falls, we hit a really big breakthrough…just kidding. As I’ve observed great teams in action, both from a distance and up close, here are eight things I believe it takes to build a great team.

How to build a great team 

 
1. Great teams get prioritized. A team may start out with multiple agendas and priorities but if they don’t come together around a common vision and set of shared priorities, they aren’t going anywhere. You may see individual greatness but team greatness simply won’t happen. I’ve written about the importance of getting your own day prioritized, the same thing is true for your team.
 
2. Great teams don’t force it. It’s hard to force trust and friendship. It’s not about trust falls and forced social mixers. It’s been tried many a time, but doesn’t work. Rather, be yourself and let the relationships develop naturally. Sure, there will be some awkward moments but stay after it. Getting beyond the surface relationally will bind your team together.
 
3. Great teams spend time together. Email is great but email alone will never build a great team. Regular face time is vital–body language, tone of voice, back and forth, posture–nothing replaces face time. You also need to get some extended time together, road trips, new experiences and dinners out. Getting out of the office context allows you to learn more about your team members. 
 
4. Great teams take time to form. Yes, there are those stories of the couples that meet, get engaged and married a week later, but let’s all agree it’s not the norm. Relationships take time, they take conflict and miss-communications, they take apologies and forgiveness. The only short-cut might be taking on the role of a servant, care more about your team than yourself and you’ll see the relationship blossom.
 
5. Great teams require you to play your position. Don’t make your teammates do your job AND don’t envy your team members positions. You’ve got a role to play and if you neglect your position, someone else has to pick up the slack. In life there is always someone better, smarter, prettier, wealthier, shorter or taller. We’re diverse for a reason and your team needs you to be you.
 
6. Great teams back each other up. We’re selfish by nature. If the ball isn’t coming to me why would I move. The true hustlers and the true team members will support each other and get behind each other even if they aren’t the center of attention. You shouldn’t need to do their job for them, but when the load is too heavy to haul on their own, you should be there to help pick things up.
 
7. Great teams build the right culture. Don’t build a culture, build the right culture. A culture might be your personal preference and what works for you. The right culture is what is best for the organization; sometimes they’re the same and sometimes they aren’t. Always asking yourself, “What’s best for the team?”, will keep you from building the wrong culture.
 
8. Great teams enjoy their work. Joy filled enthusiasm to show up and perform your job everyday is huge. This is driven more by attitude than it is circumstances. If you’re heart is in the right place, engaged, excited, humble, then you should be able to enjoy it regardless of the job. This includes the good times and the hard times, the right team is invaluable in both.
 
What’s lacking from your team? How can you be a catalyst towards greatness? It’s worth the effort, I promise.
 
For more on this subject check out my book Authority on Amazon.