Great teams very seldom achieve success without a strategy that unites and motivates all team members effectively, and ensures they are working together towards achieving a common goal.
In nearly all cases, successful sports teams succeed because each team member knows their specific role. They are encouraged to play to their strengths by a strong manager who is firm but respectful, and who communicates clearly with everyone under their guidance.
Footballing underdogs Leicester City and the Portuguese national team rose to the top during 2016, despite being unvalued by professionals, journalists the general public (even themselves). Boosted by motivational managers and exceptional team ethics, each squad achieved glory and reinvigorating hope for lesser-fancied teams. They proved everyone wrong.
There are lessons here for all teams, in business especially. Employees, if they are to thrive, must be properly engaged, empowered and rewarded. So, with that in mind, here are seven key points to consider if you want to create an effective and successful unit in the workplace.
- Understand each team member’s strengths
The first step on the path to success is understanding how each team member fits into the overall picture. An effective manager will quickly set out to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of their employees. They will assign tasks based on those attributes, offer development opportunities to help improve weaker areas, and – most of all – ensure goals are set with these individual and collective strengths and weaknesses in mind.
- Set team goals
A team is more than just a group of unconnected people who sit near each other in an office – or at least it should be. There’s much more to think about and there are plenty of studies out there on how successful teams work.
Employee happiness and team satisfaction are paramount. They’re both important for maintaining a productive equilibrium but for also achieving the goals you set, which should be one of the first things you do.
- Develop leadership skills
Leadership doesn’t just come from above. The most effective teams achieve their goals because each of its members is a leader in their own right. Following on from the first point: each team member should have their own strengths, and they must be comfortable sharing knowledge and leading others so the whole unit is working to a high standard.
A good manager will give opportunity for those employees to share their specialism(s) with other team members. In turn this will help them develop leadership, communication, and also (most importantly) improve the team’s overall effectiveness.
- Value each team member
Managers should know how each of their team members responds to criticism and how best to treat and motivate them if they want the best results. They should value each employee accordingly and empower them to shape their own professional future. Manage this correctly and you’ll have a team that knows where its future lies and how it can get there.
Communication, trust and transparency are the three pillars your team should always adhere too. Constantly communicating your team objectives and goals will ingrain your ambition into the team ethic and ensure everyone is on the same page.
- Reward handsomely
Rewards are big motivators in any team-based situation. An attractive rewards package promotes good feelings and encourages all team members to work hard, while fair individual pay packages will keep each employee motivated.
It was well publicised during Leicester City’s winning season: Claudio Ranieri promised his team pizza after every match it won, a treat otherwise banned due to its not-so-nutritious value to footballers. This alone wasn’t responsible for the team’s success, but along with other factors (many of which we’ve outlined here), it certainly will have helped the team on its way to glory.
- Get to know each other
Teambuilding is central to creating a cohesive unit. Yes, these types of exercise – team nights out or adventure weekends – are important to help build an immediate bond, but by doing non-work-related activities, you’ll also hopefully help to develop kickstart longer-lasting friendships that exist beyond the workplace.
The knock-on effect? These new friendships will seep back into the workplace and new friends will motivate each other and contribute to a better-performing team unit.
Andrew Williams writes for Portfolio CBR, an recruitment specialist which focuses on compensation, benefit and reward roles.