Seven Strategies for Team Success

Teams are part of the fabric of organizations. If you work, it’s likely that you are part of a team, probably more than one. Here are seven strategies for team success:

  1. Composition – the right mix of people is essential for achieving success. However, there is no one correct combination. If you need speed then the more similarity between the members, the better. If excellence is most important then diversity is essential. Research shows that having team members with different perspectives achieves a better outcome, but that takes longer. Be strategic about the composition of your team.
  2. Purpose – we read a great post discussing whether mission or team matters most. Why does a team exist? If it’s simply for the sake of having a team, any mission is doomed because the team itself will take priority. A shared mission is the purpose of a team. Team members are human beings. Human beings yearn for meaning (and research shows it’s one of the top five factors in great teams.) Meaning is a critical motivational factor. Since mission matters for success, meet the teams need for meaning through a clear purpose.
  3. Synergy – A strong, effective team will be exponentially more productive than a group of individual contributors all working on the same project. Synergy is the when the interaction of people produces a combined effect that is greater than the sum of the individual persons. There is a difference between a team and a group. When you want synergy, focus on creating a true team.
  4. Success – maintain team motivation by building in wins along the way. Whether the ultimate goal is ten days, ten months or ten years away, break things down into achievable chunks that create a succession of successes that motivate the team. Success is reinforcing and reinvigorating. On longer range goals, it’s essential to build in success and celebration.
  5. Clear and Specific – when someone asks you to complete something next week, does that mean Monday or by close of business on Friday? Language matters, and the most successful teams make sure that everyone has a common understanding. In fact, many high performing teams we’ve observed have developed language shortcuts that mean little to non-members but are filled with meaning for insiders. Clear and specific language is a critical team strategy to ensure shared understanding.
  6. Connection Counts – this team strategy is about making sure that everyone understands how the mission or purpose of the team is contributing to something even greater. Whether that means tying it to a company strategy or the greater good, every team member needs to connect the dots between their daily work and something that matters. Connection between current actions and the ultimate impact makes teams work better.
  7. Make it Safe – Last but not least, this is the number one factor for team success according to Google’s People Operations research. Psychological safety is the belief that you can share anything without feeling foolish, humiliated, or rejected. It is most important for teams that do work that’s complex, uncertain, or interdependent.

Make the most of your team experiences. Reframe the challenging ones as learning opportunities and celebrate the great ones. Use these seven strategies to increase your success as a team member or team leader.

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