Remember Bruce Tuckman’s wise words about new teams are as true now as they were 50 years ago: A new team will go through 4 stages of development Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing.
If you find yourself leading a new team here are 5 ways to get your gang performing from the outset:
1. Embrace Differences
The most successful teams contain people with a variety of strengths and qualities. Some team members enjoy solving problems and generating ideas; others prefer to concentrate on working through a process methodically. In addition to working preferences, different folks respond to varied forms of communication. Some like messages to be succinct and to the point, clearly explaining the benefits, while others need to know that all possibilities have been considered and that no-one has been left out – this style of course requires a longer conversation.
2. Define Roles
Based on the above it is important to clearly define roles, not just the direct work tasks but also the allied contributions, such as which team member has the best grasp of the technology you use, who really enjoys organising team lunches and evenings out. Organisation charts can play a part in this but you can’t beat actually sharing out responsibility and publicly recognising contributions to establish people in roles that suit their strengths.
3. Communicate Regularly
As a new team it’s essential to spend time together, in the same place and looking into the whites of each others’ eyes. Use a weekly update meeting to hear from each individual. As little as 60 seconds on what I’ve achieved last week and 60 seconds on my main priorities for this week can massively improve communication and keep the team on track.
As the leader, have a weekly 1 to 1 with each team member in order to get to know how each individual works best.
The strongest teams are often not just colleagues but friends. Spend time away from the office getting to know the people behind the job, you’ll be amazed at the wealth of untapped qualities and talent that exists. The right activity will also build trust and interdependence, meaning that the leader can begin to ease off and start to empower those around her.
4. Set out your vision
A team is simply a group of people working towards a shared goal.
Continously find ways to restate your goal so that it becomes the team’s reason for being. The datum by which all decisions and progress can be measured.
5. Make it fun
Over 70% of people when asked why they left their last job said they’d had enough of their boss. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this means that you should find ways to get your team to ‘like’ you. Loyalty comes from feeling appreciated, having clear objectives and feeling supported.
We believe that teams that play together, work together so find ways to frequently raise the mood in your team. Remember that humour is very subjective, so find ways to play that suit the personalities in the team. For some it’s beer after work, for others a book group is more appropriate.