Regardless of the individual talents of employees, there are certain factors that have to be carefully implemented in order for teams to perform at their optimum and achieve success. Many man-hours can go into carefully assembling teams – choosing the best personnel to produce a well-oiled and harmonious unit, however, if the following points aren’t addressed then at best a team will never operate anywhere close to their full potential, at worst a team could completely collapse, potentially rendering an entire team irrevocably damaged.
- Clarity of leadership
This really comes down to a very simple concept. The leadership structure must be well defined and visible. Teams at an individual and group level need to fully understand the management structure and feel confident that the system is there to completely support them. Every organisation operates with its own hierarchy, however when that hierarchy becomes too steep, fundamental problems begin to appear. When management becomes unreachable and interaction between leadership and employees is severely limited, a lack of clarity on both sides always leads to inertia and eventual mistrust.
In order to achieve success, every team needs a clear understanding of the task set out in front of them. No matter how fantastic the vision of a project is, if those expected to implement it don’t fully understand the concept or the specifics of their position in the vision, it will never come to fruition.
Communication works both ways and every individual in the team should feel confident in having their voice heard. Without the confidence to speak up, teams can drift through projects without raising legitimate concerns that were overlooked in development or suggesting improvements. It is also a powerful motivating tool, giving individuals and teams a greater sense of ownership of a project. The tale of NASA’s disastrous first launch of the Hubble telescope shows exactly why. After installation it became clear there was a serious flaw with the mirror of the telescope. An investigation by Congress determined that the contractors on the project had become quite aware of the problem but so hostile was the culture at NASA at the time they felt unable to bring their concerns to management resulting in the near collapse of the billion-dollar programme.
- Team harmony and trust
There are numerous factors that can destabilise the harmony of a team, all of which can be averted by strong, present leadership. Overly aggressive competitiveness, a lack of direction or simple personality clashes can all destroy teams if left unchecked. To keep teams performing, management needs to be constantly aware of the dynamics of a team and their constant development. Team harmony and trust takes time to build up, individuals need to be encouraged to find the most effective way of working together and build trust in their own and each other’s abilities.
Providing a stable and secure working environment is crucial for successful levels of productivity. Companies with a high employee turnover rate will always struggle to reach their potential. Aside from the retraining and acclimatisation period needed for new employees, if current employees are made to feel disposable it becomes impossible to build any level of commitment and confidence amongst staff. Continuity is an essential part in the growth and development of a workforce; if it is removed companies are in danger of existing in a very narrow loop.
- Reward and recognition
Individuals need to feel appreciated for their efforts. The one thing that is constant across all high performing teams and individuals is a continued sense of worth. Without feedback and recognition, productivity and achievements start to tail off rapidly. Even the most motivated and selfless employees or teams will eventually burn out without a return on their personal investment.