“Employees want to feel that they are on a winning team, that the company is moving ahead, and that they are an integral part of the group.”

Building a Great Team Requires More Than Just Hiring a Bunch of Talented People

  • It means hiring people who will work well together.
  • It means developing a shared vision and commitment.
  • It means physically bringing people together in formal group meetings for open discussion of broad-based issues.
  • It means encouraging positive, informal interactions among group members.
  • It means instilling a “winning” attitude throughout the organization.
  • It means watching for and quickly trying to reverse team-building problems such as jealousy, cynicism, and defensive behavior.
  • It means having a diverse workforce—one that can bring multiple perspectives and viewpoints together in a productive manner.

Get Your Employees to “Buy In”

To build a winning team, you need to not only show people what direction the company is headed in but also get them to “buy into” this direction. Otherwise, you can’t expect people to support a group if they don’t agree with where it’s headed or, worse, don’t even know where it’s headed.

Specifically, you need to show people:

  • Your vision for the future
  • Your strategy for getting there
  • Why this is the best strategy
  • Milestones that mark progress toward company goals

This is not a onetime discussion or announcement. You need to constantly remind people what the organization stands for and that it does indeed hold a bright future for them!

Meetings Build Solidarity

Part of building a winning team is having some group meetings. Meetings, or even parties or celebrations, with as many people as possible from the entire organization, help build a feeling of solidarity throughout the company. But it is also important to have everyone participate in smaller group meetings where some work is done or some decisions are made. This makes people feel that they aren’t just part of some big group, but that they are an active, important part of a team.

For key managers, or people in your work group, you should have an interactive meeting once per week—not a meeting where you just make announcements and summarize the work that’s been done and needs to be done, but a meeting where everyone has an opportunity to give feedback on substantive issues.

Getting People to Work Together

Perhaps the most difficult part of building a winning team is encouraging positive, informal interactions among team members when you are not present. Here are some thoughts on this:

  • Have team members take part in the hiring process of new team members.
  • Assign specific projects for two team members to work on together.
  • Try to arrange for close proximity of offices.
  • Create an incentive-pay plan based on common goals, such as profitability.
  • Have a specific part of the salary review dependent upon “interaction with others.”
  • Take your team off-site for formal meetings as well as casual get-togethers to build a sense of bonding.

Watch Out for Team Destroyers!

Here are some of the problems that can rip the team-building process apart.

Jealousy. Be on guard for jealousy whenever a new member is hired into the group. Go out of your way to tell other team members how much their work is appreciated.

Cynicism. Some people are just negative by nature. Others might feel your company can’t possibly prosper or they just don’t like small companies, big companies, or whatever. Make sure you are emphasizing the company’s positive achievements to the group as a whole. And don’t hesitate to confront any openly cynical individuals and demand their behavior change at once.

Lack of confidence. Some people lack confidence and view attacks on their opinions as attacks on themselves, responding with statements like, “Are you telling me my fifteen years of experience don’t matter?” Stop any discussion like this immediately and, in a private one-on-one meeting, patiently point out the defensive behavior.

Takeaways You Can Use

  • A successful team means more than just a collection of skilled individuals.
  • It takes time and effort to pull a team together.
  • Get your employees to “buy in.”
  • Watch out for behaviors that undermine team cohesion.