When I create a team

Much of the work we do nowadays is teamwork.

Even if our people are in two different cities or in two different groups, we want them to work together as a team.

Yet teamwork does not come naturally to all of us.

It helps to have played some team sport, back in school and college. But most of the time, when we were studying in school - teamwork was frowned upon. During exams, it was called, cheating! And was punishable.

So when I create a team, how do I get it to perform well and perform quickly?

The answer lies in revisiting some basics of teaming, seen from the team creator's point of view.

The first basic – Teams come together most easily around a challenging task, that needs to be done, but is beyond the abilities of a single individual.

Unfortunately this also means that if there is no challenging task, worthy of being done by a team, then there is likely to be no team either.

Therefore, the 1st note to self is, 'Ensure sufficient challenge for the team!'

The second basic – All teams struggle in the beginning. They go through stages of Forming, Storming, Norming and only then Performing.

In the beginning it is usually not clear what needs to be done and even more basic – why it should be done in the first place?

When I create a team, I should consciously decide if I want to let the team figure these things out for themselves. After all, I am empowering them so if I continue to micro-manage ..

Nevertheless, they may still need help. A little directing here; A little nurturing there! But always, my actions will speak louder than my words in these things.

The 2nd note to self is, 'Be available, but don't intrude, as the team norms itself!'

If the urge to step in becomes too strong - Do Remember – in real life, there are many correct ways of achieving the same results and even better – there are many results, that can serve the cause usefully.

With multiple people in a team – there are sure to be many opinions.

And then, there is the question of who will do what. Especially so, with different skills; different strengths, different work styles and different standards of what constitutes success.

The third basic – Teams find their balance eventually. If the team understand teaming, this happens earlier and a little more gracefully. This leads to higher efficiency and productivity.

The 3rd note to self therefore is, 'Teach teaming to teams!'

As a team - the answer comes from aligning to the challenge on hand and remaining focused.

People have different abilities and working style preferences. Some are creative, some are critical. Some are doers, some are connectors. Some start better. Others finish better. And then there are the specialists, because this particular challenge requires them.

The individual’s answers are all part of a group dance - partly choreographed, partly spontaneous. Where each dancer is an individual too and part of a group too. This has the potential to be as beautiful as any other dance, you may have seen.

Trust in your own wisdom and in the team's wisdom too - to figure out what needs to be done at any particular time.

Note to self - 'Trust the team!'

The fourth and final – when teams really perform, they far outstrip, what is possible individually. They also create a memorable bonding amongst team members, which almost always, is also the basis of many more future pairings.

You will know this from your own career and how you have come together with a few people again and again.

This, in fact, is the reason, why we must individually be interested in working as teams. When a team has done well - there will be even bigger challenges and even better collaboration opportunities in the future, for those who performed.

Final note to self, 'Share teaming successes, as you get them going!'

So let us get started and put our understanding of high performance teams, to work!

A recap of the 'notes to self', as I go about creating a team, is

  • Ensure sufficient challenge for the team
  • Be available, but don't intrude as the team norms itself
  • Teach teaming to teams
  • Trust the team
  • Sharing teaming successes, as you get them going.