Teambuilding is both an art and a science. As such, no “one size fits all.” There are, however, some fundamental principles of teambuilding which, when followed, will produce impressive results. Here are six I think you’ll find helpful.
Establish a Clear Vision
In order for any team to get where it wants to go or achieve a desired objective, someone has to establish a vision. And, by the way, a general direction will do no one any good. In order for a vision to have any power whatsoever, it must be clear and specific. I recommend using the same acronym for a vision as you would for an objective: S.M.A.R.T. Make the vision for you and your team Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound. Remember, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
As a manager or leader, you’ll need to make sure your team is committed to achieving the vision or accomplishing a desired objective. There’s a difference between contributing to a team mission and being committed to making the vision a reality. The classic difference between the two is looking at a plate of bacon and eggs and remembering the chicken contributed to the meal but the pig committed. Big difference.
Competency is Critical
Build a team based on competency. Having good chemistry is important but having people on your team who have appropriate skills, talents or abilities is critical to making the vision a reality. Surrounding yourself with your buddies may make for some good times but will probably not produce desired results.
Establish a Constitution
A written constitution, describing what you’ll achieve and why, creates the foundation from which the team will operate. Just as the U.S. Constitution forms the bedrock of our country’s beliefs and founding principles, so too will a constitution for your team. It doesn’t have to be complicated but it should draw the lines on the field so everyone on the team understands what behaviors are, and are not, acceptable.
Collaborate and Communicate
The basic definition I use for collaboration is: “Working together to achieve a common objective.” It’s not enough, however, to just establish a culture of collaboration. You’ll want to be specific in terms of how the team will collaborate and communicate. Meetings? How often? Email? What are the parameters? Conference calls? Face time? Skype? Draw the lines on the field so the team will know what vehicle to use for specific types of communication and collaboration.
Establish a Culture of Creativity
One of the benefits of using a team to solve problems and achieve desired outcomes is to take advantage of divergent and innovative thinking. Building a team in which everyone thinks the same way and is more focused on maintaining the status quo makes no sense. In a previous article, I recommended, “Don’t Fix, Innovate.” The idea behind the title is that simply “fixing” the problem seldom leads to innovation. When we “fix” we just get everything back to the status quo. When we innovate, we look for new or different ways of doing things.
There you have it: fundamental principles for gathering a group of energized and competent people together to bring a vision to reality and accomplish an important project. Clarify the vision, get commitment from every team member, choose competent, qualified individuals, establish a team constitution, collaborate and communicate, and strive for innovation and creativity. These time-tested teambuilding principles will help you create an unstoppable team.