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What do you want from a team?


David Archibald, Senior Consultant at ukIdea shares his analysis of the qualities common to the best corporate teams.

These comments are simply based on personal experience of teams, ranging from the mediocre to the dazzlingly effective. It’s my summary of 20 years in the corporate and multinational environment.

The best teams normally have:

  • 1. Members of similar ethos

    Communications are better when everyone has natural rapport.

  • 2. Members with complementary skills.

    This simply increases the chance of being able to tackle diverse tasks.

  • 3. A clear goal (and shared desire to achieve it)

    Everyone works enthusiastically in the same direction, without any doubts.

  • 4. A strong team identity

    The team has to be recognised by each other, and others as a collective. In large organisations, people can be in more than one team. Make these teams clearly identifiable, such as a department team (e.g. Finance) and a business-goal team (e.g. New Product Development). In sports this happens when local-team players also represent their national team.

  • 5. Recognition of achievements through praise, and rewards

    A mix of rewards is needed to satisfy all personalities within the team.

  • 6. A manager/leader

    To make sure all the above points are in place

  • 7. Competitors, or a deadline target

    These give an edge such that people strive to deliver results, and be the best.

    If you are in the fortunate position of starting a new team it is possible to select the skills of each member. It’s worth spending a lot of energy at the early stage, especially when the ideal candidates seem impossible to find.

    The ideal team will depend on the task involved. For example if you want a creative and innovative team you must consider not only professional qualifications, but experience, hobbies and other interests. Alternatively consider a team that needs to work closely together for long periods, here you may put emphasis on social skills and train the business skills later.

    Inheriting a team may mean replacement, and recruitment. Normally managers make the most of existing teams. One way to go about this is to impact each of the above list items: get people communicating, restate your goal, meet as a team, publicise and reward the team.

    Finally, remember the cliché “a team should be more effective than the sum of the individual members.”

    What qualities need to be nurtured to make an effective team? Mail us or post your question below.

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