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How to Develop an Effective Team

Whether you manage experienced people who only ask you a question occasionally or new hires for whom training takes up much of your day–or a combination of the two extremes–every person is a valuable part of your team. Effective teamwork involves working together to produce an excellent product. In many ways, your job is to be the conductor of your team’s orchestra.

Good teamwork begins with a strong commitment to working as part of a team. You will work with other managers as a management team, and you will also be responsible for the output of your own team. Being a good team member requires consultation and collaboration with others on a regular basis, as well as believing in the power of teams as one of your core values.

Effective teams help each member succeed at his/her assigned tasks, collaborate on projects as necessary, respect individual and cultural differences while holding each other accountable, and recognize team members for jobs well done.

If your team isn’t as effective as you would like it to be, first examine whether you adequately encourage cooperation, communication, and collaboration among your team members. It all begins with you.

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Some suggestions for developing your team include:

  • Think about team-building as often as you can. For example, set aside time in staff meetings where team members can brainstorm about how to solve a problem or improve something in the organization. Whenever possible, create opportunities for team members to socialize together so they can get to know each other. People who know each other will be more open to asking for help or advice than they would be with strangers.
  • Ask your team members what kind of projects they would like to be assigned. Then, when opportunities for special projects arise, you can assign them to people who are interested in that area. This allows you to show your appreciation for the talents of your team members and for individuals to stretch themselves professionally.
  • Decide how you want to make decisions and how this will affect the team. If you decide that the team must reach consensus before proceeding in a particular direction, be prepared for lengthy periods of discussion before the decision is made. Or maybe you believe in majority rule. If this is the case, make sure that everyone understands your approach before discussing the issue. Allow time for every member of the team to weigh in on the options. If you will be making the decision with input from your team members, make sure you go back to the team and explain why you made the decision you did, and thank people for offering their insights. Having a part in the decision-making process is an effective way to increase team members’ loyalty to the team.
  • Thank people for the work they have done on a project. Make sure you schedule a time and place to celebrate your team’s accomplishments. Make it clear that you and your organization reward team involvement and that it is a necessary part of people’s jobs.
  • When you show respect for the different talents and interests of your team members, you will be modeling how individuals should treat each other. People are not equal in their contributions, but all are necessary for a high-functioning team.

Accomplishing tasks through teamwork has increased in importance in recent years in all aspects of corporate life. Your ability to develop your team and to increase your skills in working as a team member will enhance your reach and impact within your organization.