Someone recently was asking me what was most important when hiring someone, almost immediately said, “They are a team player!” Thinking about this I knew this was a generic answer, so I decided to go into more depth here and talk about what makes a good team. This could fit any team at any place.
1. Teams laugh at and with each other.
I think most people would tell of me as a super serious or super silly person, it just depends on when you see me. I really do enjoy other people, in fact I would rather be around people than do about anything else. I love having discussion, connecting, and learning from others, but sometimes I just have to shut it. The best teams I have been on know how to laugh together, no matter the group’s goals, it is important to know that you enjoy each other and ultimately love the work you will be doing together. Effective teams know how to tell the noisiest to “shut it” in a kind way and give everyone an equal chance to make a fool of themselves.
2. Teams have more than one leader.
An effective team can not just have one person who is “with it”. The team should have a few people who are good at keeping due dates, project deadlines, and a healthful communication. It takes more than just one leader, as each team member should be a leader in one area or another.
*If you have not found your strength in a particular team, you need to find it, and quick! I am sure if you ask your team what your strengths and potential strengths are you will have a great list to start from. I think that most people become most successful who they are and who they are not. I like to use the Strengths Finder to help me in this.
3. Teams have trust.
I have never worked on a healthy team that did not talk some trash once in awhile. We just did it with each other and did not let it stir us up into a fury of rage. We would cautiously approach trash talk. By cautiously, I mean that someone in the group would normally see the whole picture and realize the frustration we all seemed to be having might really have been something that could not be helped. It helps to have a few in the group who will help the team to realize that the sky isn’t falling. Venting is a great way to de-stress, but venting can also fuel the flame of frustration if you are not careful.
4. Teams eat together.
I have never worked on a team that worked well, that did not eat together a few times a week. There is something about what happens when a group of people eat together. For one reason, we don’t have the need to talk about work, and it helps us to get to know someone else. Often, the people who I have been most stressed with on a team, had difficult circumstances I did not know about until eating lunch with them and helping them feel comfortable enough to share. You are making an investment in your team by not sitting in your office or classroom and getting more “work done”. If you find that the lunches become stressful, make a “no work talk” rule for lunch.
5. Teams don’t tattletale.
This probably comes from my elementary teaching days, but it is true for adults. No one likes it when someone from a team goes over their heads to your mutual boss. If you do this, it is probably the beginning of the end for the team. You gain nothing by “telling” on people on your team. You can do a lot better by talking to them and seeing how you could possibly help. This requires a lot of finesse, but if your primary concern is the care for the other person, you really can not go wrong.
6. Teams suffer and celebrate together.
If one of the teammates is sick, the team should come together and help out. If one of the teammates is celebrating something big, the team should equally react with kind words. I have been through some horrific and incredible things in my life, and for whatever reason I remember more the reactions people gave about the event than the actual event at times. I appreciate the caring people and even the people who really try hard to fake it! Don’t play comparison games with others, one day you will celebrate with them on your behalf. Also, try to recognize when a teammate is suffering and come alongside them to encourage them. It will build trust and more importantly, help the person who is having a hard time.
7. Teams don’t use metrics.
I know this flies in the face of most of modern day thinking. We have to put numbers on everything. I think that is complete hogwash. I believe the stronger and healthier the team, the more sustained success will come. Metrics do nothing but separate people from each other. Metrics are hard because they look at a specific time, population, and time of the year. I have seen metrics destroy teams, as many people feel inferior when their results or sales are shown to the team. I believe metrics are only for the supervisor and the individual worker. Metrics should never be shared except as a whole, and even then, the focus should be that teamwork caused successful numbers, every time!
What would you add to the list? I think I am just beginning to write this post, but alas, I must stop for today…