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How to... succeed at team-building

An effective team accomplishes more than individual members alone. But how do you create an effective team? To create a team-building culture, you first have to consider the individual employee, then look at the leader and, after that, assess the team - all the while aiming to create a culture that promotes engagement. Martin Goodwill gives his tips on how to achieve success in this process.

1 Develop employees in the right jobs

Start by engaging staff. Engaged employees are enthusiastic, resist distractions, forget about time and produce more than the job requires. They improve things, volunteer for difficult assignments and encourage others to achieve more. The starting point is to put employees in the right jobs. Then you can invest in them so that they are developed for their jobs and focus their training on career advancement. Next, identify your target employees, and those doing a good job who may be future targets, and challenge them. Provide employees with stretch goals, avoid micromanaging and let them learn from their mistakes.

2 Look to your leaders

Engaging employees is part of every leader's job - the actions of senior leadership, managers and supervisors are key drivers of engagement. Appropriate assessments can identify the job fit of your leaders. You should use assessments to identify top and lesser-performing leaders, and develop a predictive performance pattern from the results. Concentrate on those leadership skills that engage staff. Aligning the behaviours and skills of leaders with the expectations of the organisation will increase their effectiveness.

3 Assess the team

Each employee has a different skill set. Assessing the team as a whole will allow managers to understand how those skill sets interact. A properly assessed team will improve employee engagement. When employees fit their jobs and teams, productivity will increase.

4 Create a culture of engagement

To remain engaged, staff require a stimulating culture, a return on their investment in your company and leadership from people they respect. Your company's "culture" is the unique personality of your firm - you need to align new recruits with that business culture. Just as employee satisfaction is directly linked to job fit, it's also linked to culture fit. To increase engagement, make sure you have the right employee in the right position.

5 Give teams what they need

Building a high-performing team is more than throwing a group of individuals into a room and stopping them leaving until they have a solution. Maintaining an effective team requires planning, communication and decision-making. What's more, teams need time, budget, tools and support to be successful. If the infrastructure is not available, productivity can be affected.

6 Establish conditions for success

Work out what is needed for team effectiveness. When recruiting, look for the right skill sets and the right behaviours. Expertise alone is not enough to qualify someone for the team. Once a team is established, you need to set meaningful performance goals: team effectiveness requires clarity about how deliverables are linked to team activities. An open decision-making process is also important: you want to create a team environment that allows members to voice their opinions in an open and honest manner. Tolerating dissent allows people to be honest and puts the team's interests above those of individual members.

Key points

- Promote high levels of employee engagement - engaged employees make better teams.
- Teams don't become effective by accident. They are created, not thrown together.
- To create a great team, you need to look at the team members, the team leader and the dynamics of the team.