What are the habits of highly effective teams?

What are the habits of highly effective teams?

December 19, 2017 by Stella Petrou Concha

Modern business is changing. Only 14 percent of firms feel that the traditional organisational model – that of a hierarchy of individuals based on expertise in a certain area – is making their firms effective, according to Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends report. The most forward-thinking firms are shifting their models towards networks of smaller teams.

The impetus for this change is to increase organisational effectiveness. The natural question, then, is what are the characteristics and habits of highly effective teams?

Open communication

Effective teams are effective communicators. This may seem an obvious point, but its importance can never be understated. If team members don’t talk, don’t share ideas and don’t offer their feelings and opinions on the group’s output and direction, it’s likely the group will run into trouble.

Having team
Effective teams have open communication – everyone’s ideas are welcome.

Too often when things are left unsaid, assumptions are made that everyone’s on the same page. It’s not difficult to see why – when you work with someone a lot, you get to know them and start to get a sense of what they would say in a given situation. Yet this can lead to mistakes when you assume what someone’s thinking instead of asking them. Talking in teams is key. As Julia Felton writes in Business HorsePower, “in teamwork, silence isn’t golden; it’s deadly”.

Psychological safety

An environment is psychologically safe when team members feel confident in taking interpersonal risks in the group.

Research undertaken by Google found that the number one trait of their most effective teams was the psychological safety they provided to their members. This is the idea that team members feel confident in taking interpersonal risks in the group – they’re not afraid to ask a question for fear of looking ignorant, or feel they’ll be shamed for admitting a mistake.

This is especially important when it comes to thinking about new ideas. Innovation comes from people proposing things that might seem a little “out there”. When there’s no psychological safety, ideas stay in people’s minds instead.

Have a clear and shared purpose

A shared vision of what’s to be achieved is a remarkably powerful motivator. Team members need to believe in the cause and have a passion for the goals of the group. When they do, they’re no longer just working for the sake of making money – they’re working because they see value in what the business is doing. Fast Company suggests asking team members “If we’re wildly successful, how will the world be different?” When everyone gives the same answer, you know you’ve got great team synergy.

Think of it like moving a heavy object – the only way it’s going to budge is if everyone’s pushing in the same direction.

Understand and utilise each other’s skills

Effective teams delegate tasks to the people that are best at them. Once again, this may seem obvious and straightforward, but failing to do so can radically diminish a team’s output. Getting the best person to do each job is a great way to ensure the team meets its potential.

In less effective teams, this can be a result of members not being familiar with each other’s talents and weaknesses. What results is an optimisation failure – not necessarily a team that doesn’t function, but one that doesn’t function as well as it could.

If your team can cultivate and exhibit these habits, it’ll be well on its way to becoming an extremely high performing one. For more tips on leadership, teamwork and productivity, take a look at Reo’s other blog posts.

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