8 Steps To Building a Successful Team

Updated February 28, 2023

Good teamwork is essential to success. Good organizations need teams that are high-performing and can communicate clearly. As a supervisor or manager, you can contribute by cultivating strong teams and encouraging teamwork.

In this article, we discuss the key characteristics of a successful team and how to build your own.

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What are the characteristics of a successful team?

Successful teams encourage team members to share ideas, consider solutions and solve problems together. Good teams benefit individual members by offering added support and opportunities for development.  Successful teams typically have the following characteristics:

  • Goal-oriented mindset: The most effective teams set, implement and track goals together to increase efficiency and improve productivity. 

  • Commitment to their roles: Individuals working in roles based on their strengths and expertise are often highly motivated.

  • Open to learning: Some teams may adjust roles and responsibilities due to the needs of a project or task. Team members who are interested in challenging their skills and learning to complete new individual tasks encourage professional growth.

  • Diverse perspectives and experiences: Since diversity tends to encourage creativity and innovation, teams with the largest spectrum of experiences and opinions have the potential to perform at their best.

  • Shared culture: Whether it is a company culture or group culture, teams who are united by a singular mission or set of values are often more motivated.

  • Responsibility and accountability: When teams share a set of values and goals, each team member can be held to the same standard. 

  • Clear communication: Good teams brainstorm solutions, provide status updates and complete tasks.

  • An effective leader: Leaders who provide clear direction and encourage team members to succeed are typically managing successful teams.

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How to build an effective team

To build a strong team, consider these eight steps:

1. Set SMART goals

Your team can prioritize SMART goals by choosing objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based. For example, you may want to exceed your quarterly quota by 10% by the end of the second quarter.

After implementing these objectives, track progress regularly. Since every member shares the same team-specific metrics, your team can monitor advancement and celebrate accomplishments. Measuring progress with a single metric rather than applying their own definitions of success helps individual team members more accurately understand their progress.

Read more: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples

2. Perform well-defined roles

Teams tend to work best when each member is responsible for contributing something specific. When team members have well-defined roles, they can focus on accomplishing individual tasks and following specific workflows rather than devoting energy to identifying their place. For example, you can assign some team members to take charge of leading different project types, while others may conduct research, perform analysis or recommend solutions.

In some cases, teams may achieve even more when members have opportunities to contribute more and advance into new roles. To make these changes as effective as possible, think about assigning new roles when beginning new projects or when taking on new responsibilities.

3. Experiment regularly

Although teams are often most productive when they have well-defined roles, consider experimenting with new ideas. The most successful teams tend to accommodate informed risk-taking and allow ample opportunities for learning, especially if these experiments have the potential to generate better results.

To introduce experimentation into your standard workflows, try making time for brainstorming before starting a project. During this thoughtful exercise, team members can contribute ideas for conducting research, structuring a project or collecting and analyzing results. 

4. Embrace diversity

The most effective teams embrace different skill sets, experience levels and professional backgrounds. You should include members who have dissimilar opinions and encourage different ways of thinking. By welcoming members with diverse views, your team may consider different approaches or goals. 

5. Share a common culture

Despite differences, the most successful teams share a common culture, such as a company or group culture. Your team might create and agree on these shared behaviors unconsciously, as they are likely to reflect preferred working or communication styles. However, your team is likely to be more productive when it has guidelines to follow. As the leader, you should gather input from members to establish a cultural values framework.

For many teams, shared values start with a cohesive mission. You should establish a singular team mission by reflecting on the organization’s mission statement and the ways your team contributes to this overarching goal.

Related: What Is Corporate Culture?

6. Be accountable to the team

To build a successful team, each member should maintain accountability. When each member is held accountable, they typically do their best work. You can establish this type of accountability by setting a good example with your own work, encouraging your team members to discuss ways to improve and making a point of implementing feedback. By encouraging group accountability, your team members can find a sense of belonging and purpose. 

7. Communicate effectively

To work together seamlessly, teams need clear lines of communication. To streamline communication, your team should clarify each member’s roles and responsibilities. This will show who is in charge of what and what to do when an issue arises or a problem needs to be solved.

Also, your team should decide how project updates will be communicated, be it email, messaging platforms or project management applications.

8. Welcome strong leadership

To ensure that teams reach their goals, work together smoothly and perform at their best, they need strong leadership. You can demonstrate effective leadership by being committed, accountable and responsible for your work. To be a strong leader, you should also cultivate adaptability, welcome feedback and motivate team members to do their best work.

Select a leadership style that best fits the type of team you’re managing to discover how to best facilitate communication, mediate discussion and conflicts and ensure continuous progress.

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