|Ten ways to create a winning team
|by Lou Carloni
todays world of downsizing, doing more with less, and working
smarter-not-harder, teamwork is more important than ever. No individual
or group of people working separately can do as much as several
key individuals working together as a team. In fact, one definition
of a winning team is one in which the whole is greater than
the sum of the parts. Synergy is essential but elusive.
Want to develop a winning team? Try the following strategies.
1. FORGET THE PAST
Many companies avoid team building because of past experiences that
have left employees jaded and cynical. This situation often results
from one too many faddish innovations in management.
Change never comes magically. Any significant change in your organization
requires a fundamental shift in the way you think, act, and do business.
It cant be another program- of-the-month. To succeed, you
have to start thinking in terms of your real customersand
what they want. If you are a manager or owner, then your real customers
are your employees. You must think of their needs first, and let
them think of the needs of the external customers.
2. BECOME A LEADER
Industrial psychologists Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus tell us in
Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge (Harper and Row,
1985) that you need only two characteristics to be a leader:
- You must use your strengths (whatever they are) to bring out
the best in others.
- You must focus only on your strengths and stop focusing on weaknesses.
Your people need you to be their leader. Think about what your
strengths are and how to use them to bring out the best in others.
Ask your people what they think your strengths are. You will get
remarkably different answers than the ones you listed. Then get
about using your strengths to build your winning team, and let
it bring out the best in your customers
3. INSTILL THE FOUR Cs
- Commitment: it is necessary that you live the mission and expect
the whole team to follow your example.
- Cooperation: the whole must become greater than the sum of the
- Communication: provide all necessary information, and let the
team members know that it is okay to ask for information and to
share data with each other, fellow workers, and sometimes even
- Contribution: participation is not optional in a teamwork situation.
You must require and support it.
4. MOTIVATE THE TEAM
People do exactly what you reward them for doing. They dont
respond to promises, requests, cries, screams, threats, or kindness.
They respond to action. Reward the individual members and the team
for the results you really want, and only for the results you really
5. PROVIDE MEANING
Each member and the team as a whole need to feel that they are making
a difference in the lives of others. The efforts they make are not
just about business successthey are about pride, about having
their work mean something to someone. You must discover what that
meaning is and magnify it. Let them clearly see the value of what
they are doing and why it matters. Let them feel the pride in their
6. SHOW THE RESULTS
Teams need to feel a sense of accomplishment; they need to see the
end result of a project. Assign your teams whole projects, not pieces.
Assign results, not specific tasks. Let team members carry the project
from start to finish. And make sure others know about the finished
product and its importance. That will help team members feel the
accomplishment of completing something significant.
7. TRAIN WITHOUT LIMITS
You must provide training for the team members and the leaders because
it is a necessary ingredient for team success. Allow training on
any topic that the team wants (regardless of whether it is job-related)
using videotapes, audiotapes, seminars, books, and professional
trainers. Studies show a return of 10 to 30 times the initial financial
investment in training, and it doesnt matter what a team or
its individual members learn. So keep everyone engaged in learning.
Any voluntary expansion of their abilities is a good thing for your
8. CHALLENGE THEM
Everyone has limits. But how will your team members ever know what
their limits are if you never give them a project that is more difficult
than they thought they could accomplish? They need to learn and
grow, to develop and improve. They need you to challenge them, and
to believe in them. Once you issue the challenge, you must confidently
assure them that you have faith in them. But always keep an open
door and encourage the team to come to you when they feel ill-equipped
to handle a problem.
9. EMPOWER THE TEAM
Give full control to the teamresponsibility, authority, and
accountability. This means full delegation. Dont look over
members shoulders, dont question their expenses, and
dont ask them to explain every decision and every action.
When you give them a project, you also need to outline their boundariesbudget,
timetable, scope of responsibility, and authority. Then let them
carry the ball. Meet with them at agreed-upon times, and keep your
door open in case they need to call on you. Other than that, get
out of the way and let them impress you.
10. GIVE RESPECT
When they rise to the challenge and accomplish something truly outstanding,
you must show your appreciation for their efforts, and reward the
team accordingly. Let them see the respect you have for their significant
accomplishments, and make certain others see it as well. The sweetest
sound in the world is ones own name being spoken in a complimentary
fashion by someone else. Let them hear their names and the name
of the team from your lips to every ear in the organization.
Lou Carloni is president of
SMBC, Inc., a training and consulting firm, in Odenton, Maryland.