5 Tips to Get the Best from Your Teams

Our teams just don’t work; lots of talk about each other, plenty of friction but very little traction. Some people simply avoid their team and go it alone.

If your teams are not zones of trust, collaboration and harmony, then you won’t be getting the effectiveness and results that you could. Perhaps it’s time for a change for the better?

Here are 5 tips to improve your teamwork and results. 

1.  Know the individual team roles of your team members and create balanced teams.

Individual team roles describe how we each contribute and behave in a team context. Dr Meredith Belbin’s research at Henley Management School identified nine team roles that are required for a team to perform to its full potential. We each tend to have two to three team role preferences and the research clearly shows that we will make our most effective contribution when we focus on our team role strengths. The team needs membership that covers all nine roles, and it’s important we all understand where we fit.

Your Action Plan: Learn about Belbin Team Roles and invest in the online diagnostic for your team members. Use the results to recruit a balanced team.

2. Openly discuss your team’s strengths and weaknesses using a non-threatening common language.

The power of understanding our team role strengths and weaknesses frees us from having to be ‘all things to all people’. Increased self-awareness of how we operate in a team and our preferred styles allows us to strengthen our strengths while recognising that we also have associated weaknesses. We can decode the real meaning of our colleagues’ behaviour because we separate the personal from the performance. This means that we can admit that without the weakness we won’t have the strength, which gives us a lens to process behaviour without judging the individual.

Your Action Plan: Use Belbin Team Roles as your common framework and language for discussing team issues; assign teamwork based on preferred roles of team members; use the tool to focus on the performance rather than the personal.

3.  Work on team communications to avoid misunderstandings and resolve conflict.

Communication is both profoundly simple and exquisitely complex, and the team context can amplify differences and misunderstandings, which can be very costly in performance and retention. Each preferred team role brings with it a preferred communication style. Using the matching communication style releases the team energy into the task rather than expending it on working out how to get on with each other. The ability to identify where a potential clash of team role and communication style may occur and then work through a process for resolving differences and reaching consensus is invaluable if the team is to achieve its potential.

Your Action Plan: Use the communication style that ‘matches’ their preferred team role with each of your colleagues and team members. Remember that practice makes perfect!

4.  Have clear team goals with agreed performance measures.

Frequently, we assume that everyone in the team understands the team objectives. We need to be sure that every member of our team understands what success means in our team; we need to be explicit about the communication of our team goals. In addition, we need to have developed a range of measures as a team that show how we are doing.

Your Action Plan: Work with your team to agree and clarify shared goals and success measures.

5.  Regularly review team performance and celebrate success.

Regular reflection on ‘how’ we’re going as well as ‘what’ we ‘re doing is vital for healthy teamwork. Have we looked at the architecture of our team? Have we assigned tasks to those members with corresponding strengths? Do we have some gaps, and how might this impact on recruitment? Plus, let’s remember to celebrate our successes and achievements. Everyone appreciates being valued and no matter how you show it, team culture will benefit from the positive energy derived from celebrating success together.

Your Action Plan: Support your team leaders to be active in leadership; monitor and discuss team dynamics and performance, and recognise and reward them for achieving team goals.

This article was authored by Desirée Williamson, an ODI specialist in teamwork and an accredited Belbin Team Roles facilitator.

You may need some help with some of these actions. We have the experts and experience to support you. Contact Kyran or Nicky today - info@odi.org.nz or 03 943 2373