Thursday, April 9, 2009

Seven Essentials of Team Building

A Team is defined as an group organized to work together. And truth is that unless you are a hermit, at some level, you work with others to accomplish goals - both personal and business. The others in your group might be employees, friends, family, suppliers, or even customers. But no matter who they are, if you share a mission or vision then you are a Team. It doesn't matter if that team is formalized on paper, just a verbal agreement, or even a passing relationship, the success of the vision almost always depends on everyone working together - as a single entity.

Unfortunately, just because you put a group of people together in a tight confined space doesn't mean that they will in fact work together. Working together requires, at some level, Team Building.

Throughout my career in both the Military and as a Business Coach, I have found that there are Seven Essentials of Team Building that when present help the team work better and make the combined effort of each member more than just the sum of the individual team members. Unfortunately though, when any or all of those elements are absent, teams become little more than a group of individuals sometimes working together - sometimes not.

The Seven Essentials of Team Building are:

1. Write out the purpose of the Team - The purpose or shared vision of a team is why the team exists in the first place. It is the glue that binds the members of the team and motivates them from the outset. The more each member believes in the vision, the stronger the glue. And whether your team is new or years old, it is important to invite every member of the team to either participate in the development of the vision or agree to it.

2. Create a culture of Trust - Without a doubt, the most important element in any group of people working together is that they trust each other. I'm not talking trust that they will do their job - that's important. But what's really important is that everyone on the team must trust enough that they feel they can voice their opinions without retribution or embarrassment.

3. Set Team Goals - Ones that every one agrees with - Moving forward is about knowing what's important and not important, and getting everyone to agree. This is all about creating goals. It's about defining the rules of the game of your business - knowing how to keep score and what winning looks like. If you don't know the rules, it's not much fun.

4. Gain Commitment to Goals - Everyone's Commitment - Once you have goals - it's time to gain commitment to those goals. That sounds simple, but real commitment means the willingness to be held accountable. In order to increase the level of commitment from each team member towards the goals, make sure that they have an opportunity to share in the process of creating the goals. That doesn't mean they have to be involved in the process at every stage, but they should feel that their voice was heard in the developmental process.

5. Hold Each Other Accountable - Don't count on the Leader - Goals mean nothing if they aren't met. And the only way they are going to be met, is if there is accountability within the team. Too often, the only one that is holding anyone accountable on the team is the leader - but the most effective teams create a culture of accountability where everyone is responsible to the team - not the leader to fulfill their commitments and generate the desired results.

6. Build A Reward System - Don't be afraid to build into the team culture, a reward system that promotes the behaviors and social norms that are important to the team. In many ways, your Team Reward system is built-in accountability, that works independent of other forms of individual accountability.

7. Maintain Integrity within the Team - Integrity is defined as either a steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code, a state of being unimpaired; soundness, or a condition of being whole or undivided; completeness. All of these definitions tie directly to what matters here the most - making sure that every member of the team puts the team first, before their own needs - by not breaking the bounds of trust.

These 7 Essentials are designed to give you the beginning tools to take your team from just showing up and working together - to generating success. As you go about your day, look at the teams in your life (your family, your office, your friends, all the employees, or just the volleyball team at the YMCA) and ask yourself how well each of your teams actually works.

If you want to know more about how to implement any or all of these Essentials in your team,
feel free to contact me at

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