The Key to Building Effective Teams in the Workplace

in Business Management
Effective team building

In order for a business to be successful, employees must be able to work together as a team, which necessitates the development of effective teamwork skills.

When some people hear the word “team,” they automatically think of sports, for example, football, baseball, hockey, etc. Teams, though, are an integral part of society.

In fact, teamwork is necessary in industry, government, education, professional associations, and community and religious organizations, as well as any situation where people came together to accomplish a common goal.

The Importance of Teams in a Successful Business

Teams are vital in the business world. In fact, it seems that teams are ubiquitous in the business world, making employees who are good “team players” valuable assets to any corporation that hopes to be successful.

Moreover, according to Katzenbach and Smith, “The record of team performance speaks for itself”.

For example, look at such team-oriented companies as Microsoft, Google and Apple, where teamwork has been pivotal in each company’s continued success.

The Composition of Different Business Teams

There are several different types of teams within a business:

  • Manager-led teams (the manager specifies the team goal and how that goal will be accomplished)
  • Self-managed teams (the manager specifies the goals, but the team determines how the goal will be accomplished)
  • Self-directed teams (the team determines both the goal and how it will be accomplished)
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Teams are also classified by how long they will actually be a team. For example, in a work-team, members perform job-related tasks together on a regular basis, sometimes daily.

In a task-team, individuals are assembled to work together on a specific task or to solve a particular problem, after which the team disbands.

Finally, a governing-team is composed of individuals who serve together on a regular basis in a leadership or management capacity.

Effective Teambuilding Behaviors in the Workplace

Referring to a group of individuals as a “team” does not make it a team.

A “team” is composed of individuals who are all working together toward a common objective that has either been mutually agreed upon or else delegated to the team for accomplishment.

There is more to a team, though, since teamwork requires a coordinated effort from each member; mutual accountability; and a high level of commitment, both to one another and to achievement of the goal.

Additionally, each person must see the needs of the team as more important than his or her own needs.

But what is it exactly that makes some teams effective and others ineffective?

What Makes a Winning Team in Business?

Through several studies, LaFasto and Larsen found that in addition to core competency and working knowledge, winning teams possess ‘teamwork factors’ that significantly contribute to their overall success:

  • Experience (knowledge and vision)
  • Problem-solving ability (being proactive)
  • Openness (willing to deal with problems and promote an exchange of ideas)
  • Supportiveness (desire to help others)
  • Action-orientation (rises to the challenge with energy and focus)
  • Positive personal style (motivated and a motivator; enthusiastic and friendly)
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Of course, just as certain behaviors can contribute to a team’s success, other (negative) behaviors can destroy teams and prevent them from achieving their goals.

Such negative behaviors include the following:

  • Inappropriate humor
  • Toxic language
  • Hidden agendas
  • Conflict for the sake of conflict
  • Internal power struggles
  • Failure to follow through on commitments
  • Inability to remain focused on team goals.

Building a Successful Team in the Workplace

In order for a workplace team to be successful, members should establish team logistics and agree upon certain guidelines, for example:

  1. What is the team’s purpose?
  2. Where and when will members interact?
  3. How will members communicate? (Online, face-to-face, etc?)
  4. What form of leadership, if any, will be utilized?
  5. How will decisions be made?
  6. How will tasks be divided?
  7. What resources or tools will be needed?
  8. What will be the timeline for goal completion?
  9. How will members address any sources of conflict?
  10. How will success be measured?

In addition to establishing logistics and guidelines, members should strive to do the following:

  1. Reinforce positive behaviors in one another.
  2. Serve as catalysts for effective change
  3. Promote self-reflection on both an individual and team level.
  4. Help the team maintain its focus.
  5. Work continually to ensure accomplishment of the team’s goal.

In conclusion, a team is successful only in direct proportion to the involvement and dedication of each team member.

And, ultimately, teams that understand the essentials of team development, as well as appreciate the contribution of each team member, will realize far greater success when it comes to workplace projects and endeavors.


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