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8 Key Elements to Building a Great Team

Having built a few successful companies including the #31-ranked franchising organization in the United States (Source: IFA), I am often asked by emerging business leaders how to BUILD A GREAT TEAM.

Pulling together observations, techniques, strategies and tactics, my web/blog/social media team has helped me organize 8 Key Elements with regard to great team building.

#1 The Right Plan

Leaders owe their teams an answer to the same question that young children often ask their parents before setting out on a long drive: “Where are we going and how are we going to get there?” In other words, what is the goal and how are we going to measure progress along the way?

As that may sound simple, it is often one of the greatest challenges that teams, divisions and companies face. What is the company’s mission, vision and values? What does success look like? How are we measuring ourselves? How will we know when we’ve arrived?

Suggestion: Determine three priorities and convey how they’re going to be measured. This communication framework will help everyone on the team prioritize their time, energy and talent. The three priorities should be aligned with product/service deliverables, value proposition, human resources and competitive advantages.

Tip: DO NOT list five to ten priorities. Jim Collins, the author of the best-selling management books “Good to Great” and “Built to Last, ”says: “If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any.”

#2 The Right People

One of the key elements to building a great team is filling it with the right people. At Express Employment Professionals, we help great companies find great people (Express places 560,000 associates with 65,000 companies annually in the US, Canada and South Africa).

As a team leader, you should always be looking for great prospective employees having the most sought-after employability skills. See the list of 11 sought-after skills most commonly requested from hiring managers:

  1. Communication skills

  2. Leadership skills

  3. Teamwork skills

  4. Interpersonal skills

  5. Learning/adaptability skills

  6. Self-management skills

  7. Organizational skills

  8. Computer skills

  9. Problem-solving skills

  10. Open-mindedness

  11. Strong work ethic

#3 Communication

You noticed #1 on the above list was COMMUNICATION. Your team members must be able to share their thoughts and feelings without any repercussions. You want to create an environment of open communication.

When proper communication channels exist, team members trust each other enough to throw out ideas, new concepts and spend their time working through problems and arriving at solutions.

Communication depends on trust, and when you make a commitment to communication, your team can provide and accept constructive criticism and work together for a common goal.

Find a communication system that works well with you and your employees – online, in-person, quarterly staff meetings, workshops, one-on-one evaluations/praise sessions or a combination of these vehicles.

#4: Diverse Strengths

Find a balance of key contributors who are strong in diverse areas. You IT Tech may be brilliant but not good at marketing and PR. Your marketer might be a fantastic story teller but not good with financials or legal compliance.

You don’t need a whole team of people who are good at the same thing. You want each team member to bring (and deliver in spades) a unique skill. When the skills complement one another toward the collective goal, you’ve began to build a great team.

#5: Shared Values

Shared values are not the same thing as company values. Company values relate directly to an organization’s overarching approach to its bigger mission and vision. Shared values, on the other hand, have more to do with how employees relate to one another. How they interact and work together cohesively. How they honor each other’s thoughts, ideas and concepts.

Shared values often go hand-in-hand with friendship — a corresponding driver that influences the degree to which people feel cared for by colleagues. Both friendship and shared values can have a big impact on engagement. They lead to stronger social connections at work, which research has found to boost productivity and passion. Employees who enjoy this type of camaraderie are far more likely to stay at their jobs and be loyal to the company.

In a post-COVID environment, work hard to arrange teams so that connectedness (based on shared values) is freely adopted.

#6: Cooperation

Your great team depends on their ability to cooperate well together. In order to be productive, there are a few team behaviors key to great team building.

1. Follow through – team members have to trust each other when a member says ‘I will do it’

2. Accuracy – each person’s accuracy affects the group as a whole

3. Creativity – new ideas (solutions) increase productivity, innovation and best practice platforms

4. Timeliness – each team member must respect one another’s time and punctuality

5. Spirit – a team is a family, and as such, even during conflict, must reflect positive “spirit”

#7: Conflict Management

Your great team is made up of humans, so you can expect some drama, jealousy, corporate ladder climbing and, ultimately, conflict. Remember that differences are okay. What defines your team is how the conflict is handled.

Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann developed five conflict resolution strategies (handling conflicts at the workplace). These represent: avoiding, defeating, compromising, accommodating, and collaborating.

Take some courses, webinars or workshops and help your team avoid/defeat conflict. Encourage togetherness and ‘team wins’. And when your company grows into having their own HR department, ensure conflict resolution is a key competency.

#8 Recognize your Stars

If I have learned anything in more than seven decades of business development/team building, it is that recognizing key contributors WORKS.

Celebrate individual accomplishments in front of their peers. Celebrate team accomplishments in front of the entire company. Have fun and be creative. Yes, you can use monetary incentives and rewards (issue gift cards, company stock, bonuses, trips or paid time off) but often dedicated and enthusiastic recognition of an individual/team can go a LONG WAY while remaining ‘budget neutral’.

Some of my past tips/techniques:

1. Recognition among Peers - highlight a team member with the ‘ACE AWARD’ during quarterly all-staff meetings

2. Personalized Accolades – have the executive team collectively send a note of appreciation for a certain job well done or recognizing a met goal

3. Awarded Time – younger generation associates greatly appreciate PTO (paid time off) as a corporate gesture following an enormous and time-sensitive project resulting in great outcomes

4. Sponsored Rewards – with my regional Vice Presidents, I would often meet with them to develop custom incentives based on specific year-end goals. Upon goals achieved, rewards (aligned with written incentive and KPIs) range from trips, to cruises, to a remodeled bathroom in their home, to a philanthropic gift to a favorite charity.

5. Promotion – if a team member really ‘hits it out of the park’, pull together your executive leaders (and their supervisor) and discuss/consider a promotion in title, a raise, a one-time bonus, additional authority and corporate responsibilities, etc.

It is not hard to understand why team building is a key ingredient in building/growing great companies. Best of luck in your personal and corporate endeavors and I hope these small tips, techniques, thoughts and recommendations can help you and your team build an awesome team.



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