How to create and sustain winning teams

These days, everything is a team. The success or failure of your business depends upon the quality of the teams assembled and the management of those teams. You can have the greatest individual players ever seen but if you can’t get them to work together toward a common goal, then all is likely lost. A recent study of teams was done nationally by Microsoft as they interviewed dozens of team members and managers from around the country. The researchers asked dozens of pointed questions and the companies they talked with were all sizes and across many industries. Here are the key findings with regard to what makes a great and successful team.

  • There must be a vision and a purpose. This gives all of the members a “why” as to the outcome that is sought. With such vision and purpose, a manager can keep them focused and on the proverbial track much easier than if there is just a vague outline. They must feel invested in the outcome.
  • There must be a clear identity. Each team needs its own personality and system of doing the things that it does. There should be no guesswork when a member joins a team. They should already be aware of that team’s nature and character and way of doing things. It creates a way of doing things which establishes solid habits that achieve ultimate and consistent success.

  • Awareness breeds strength. Members need to be aware of their words and actions and how it affects the overall collective dynamic and the success of the mission. Inclusion, the study found, is also critical to the success of any team. The leader’s ability, or inability, to gather together everyone’s individual strengths and harness them at the goal is a huge factor in a team’s ongoing success. You can’t just throw people together and then blame them when it doesn’t work. You need to see the intricacies of each personality and how they will help the team to win. If you are incapable, find someone who is. You can’t win a Super Bowl if you have four quarterbacks and no wide receivers.
  • Challenge them and hear them. The team must know that they are free to speak their minds. The must feel safe to express ideas and concerns. If not, your company is going down. Find ways to challenge them and create that creative tension that generally tends to explode into new ideas and ways of looking at problems. This isn’t the second grade anymore. You just can’t put desks together and expect anything to work the way you want it to.

-Written by Kevin Sawyer