Why do some businesses grow and thrive, while others fail, within a few years — if not months? Well, many factors may contribute to the success of a business; yet, there is one that may, indeed, determine long-term business success. And, that’s none other than (building) the perfect team.
Why is it important to build the perfect team?
A person, alone, can only go so far. And, even the most capable person cannot bring an idea to become a realized success story; not without the help of a team. On the contrary, when people work together, they can achieve a lot; and, in less time. They say ‘there’s power in unity’ for a reason, right? Different people bring different skills, qualities and experiences to the table. Those attributes, combined, can create a team that can get things done — a ‘dream’ team. Such a team is the most vital ingredient for business success and innovation.
Now, as an HR manager, you need to take it upon yourself to assemble this dream team for the company. A, most certainly, challenging task! How do you do this? First things first, let’s start with the basics: What is the recipe for the perfect team?
What are the characteristics and qualities of a successful team?
This may seem like a simple question, but it’s hard to answer, as it depends on several factors. Besides, different companies have different requirements from their teams. And, since company culture plays a catalytic role here — as we’ll see further down — one company’s perfect team may not be perfect for another. That is to say, it all depends on what the needs are. Still, there are some characteristics and qualities that dream teams share; and these are:
1. Strong and supportive leadership
How can a team be perfect, without the perfect leader? That is, a leader, to unify everyone toward a common goal; while providing guidance, motivation and support, at all times. Someone who encourages team members to openly communicate their ideas and to cooperate in harmony. And, when the going gets tough, this is the person the team members turn to; to offer direction and keep their morale high.
2. Goal-oriented mindset
Successful teams share a goal-oriented mindset; which means, they set common goals right from the get-go. Not only that, but they make sure they track the right metrics to gauge their success — or failure, for that matter — in the end. These goals, on one hand, provide them with a collective focus. On the other hand, they help create a strategic plan for attaining them.
Based on this plan, each member is assigned to a well-defined role, with specific tasks and responsibilities. On a perfect team, everybody contributes to the actualization of the plan, using their unique skills and talents.
3. Responsibility, accountability and commitment to roles
As mentioned, in a perfect team, every team member is working under a well-defined role, based on their skills, talents, experience, and expertise. This is key to overall team productivity and, thus, success; everyone feels committed and motivated to deliver what’s expected of them, and responsible for their part.
4. Clear communication
Another important characteristic perfect teams share is, of course, open, straightforward communication. Such a team’s members share their opinions and ideas with one another; even when they know they may cause a disagreement or conflict. That is to say, they’re not afraid to express themselves, because they know they are in a safe environment, with people who respect them; no matter their differences.
After all, disagreements and conflicts within a team are inevitable. However, in the perfect team, members resolve their issues constructively. If anything, different opinions are welcome, and are seen as opportunities to stir creativity and innovation.
5. Openness to learning
There has not been a single dream team, without a shared passion to learn and grow; both collectively, and individually. A perfect team’s members do not hesitate to put their skills to the test, learn new skills, and complete tasks that they might have initially thought impossible. Professional — and personal — growth is vital here; and all members know that, in order to grow, they need to get out of their comfort zone.
6. Trust, respect and solidarity, among teammates
Needless to say, a perfect team’s members respect each other — and they walk their teamwork talk. Committed to the team’s success, as they are, every member typically accomplishes their assigned tasks on time, following through with the team’s plan. At the same time, they trust that their teammates will do the same. However, should a teammate encounter a setback, members willingly lend a helping hand.
How to build the perfect team in 6 steps
Sure, it’s easier said than done, but here’s the thing: when you know the characteristics of the perfect team, it’s easier for you, as an HR manager, to start assembling one for the company. That goes to say, if you have in mind everything we’ve discussed so far, most everything falls into place quite naturally. Nonetheless, to help you get started, we’ve listed below 6 steps to start building the ideal team!
1. Spotting the perfect leader
How does one spot the perfect leader? As an HR professional, you already know what makes for a strong leader. Besides, you have psychometrics in your arsenal, to help you find one on the spot. Among other things, a strong leader is someone who:
- leads by example
- inspires and motivates the team
- is self-aware, responsible, and accountable
- is a self-starter, and a visionary
- builds trust
- treats everyone equally — and as equals
- cares for each team member — their well-being, as well as their professional and personal development
- encourages team members to share ideas, opinions, emotions, and
- helps their team find solutions to their problems, if need be.
2. Helping team members find their roles within the group
When creating a plan for building the perfect team, it’s critical to consider the needs and goals of the business beforehand. Once those are clarified, you can start profiling the people who, ideally, will help address these needs and fulfill those goals.
If there are employees, within the company, who are available and willing for rotation, see who can be a good fit for each role you’ve outlined; and start assigning them accordingly. In case you’re hiring, look for the personality, the skill set, and the experience required to meet each role. Defining roles and responsibilities can make a world of difference in building the perfect team.
3. Encouraging open communication among teammates
Communication is something that many take for granted. Yet, effective internal communication is critical for the success of a team. Why? Simply because, as humans, we all need to know where we stand with other people; let alone when we are part of a team. For instance, a team member will want to know if the rest of the team thinks they’re doing a good job; or whether there’s something they need to do to improve their performance.
Sure enough, balance within a team is fragile, and it can be easily disturbed; especially when it comes to communicating opinions, thoughts, emotions, and ideas. That’s where you come into play. To help create an environment where everyone feels safe to share their opinions, thoughts, emotions, and ideas; so long as there are good intentions, of course. And the key for creating such an environment is a strong team culture — we’ll get there soon, I promise 😊.
4. Helping team members form connections with each other
Although you want team members to be part of the team and act in sync, you also want them to keep their individualism; and, to keep in touch with their human attributes. Without a doubt, a team blossoms when its members are respected for both their unique talents and their unique personality. Hence, it’s cardinal that team members get to know each other, allowing them to gain the respect of their teammates, to build trust and feel a certain level of intimacy.
To that end, you can set up various team bonding activities, to encourage members to get to know other aspects of their teammates. To understand them better, to regard them as partners, with whom they work toward a shared goal. And, don’t worry; they still may not become friends, but they’ll be a better team for it.
5. Acting as an emotional pillar and a harmonizing influence
It’s a fact that people have their ups and downs; thus, perfect teams cannot remain 100% energetic for too long — and that’s OK, that’s part of the journey, right? It also means that, to be able to know when something’s off with a team member — or with the whole team, for that matter — can really save the day. Sure, the team leader is mainly responsible to tackle this but, sometimes, there may be an issue between the leader and another member of the team. Or maybe, the team leader needs you to offer them consolation or a new perspective.
If you want to help build the perfect team, make sure to be open with the team members; be sensitive to their moods and feelings. Who else will be this ‘neutral’ person, who can offer sincere advice, who is trustworthy and reliable, if not you?
6. Going for diversity
Another important element to consider, when building the perfect team, is diversity. Research has found that companies that bring in team members of different genders, ages, racial or ethnic backgrounds, abilities, etc., to their teams, can perform better financially; and, on top of that, have a competitive advantage. If you think about it, perfect teams comprise team members who complement each other. Notably, diversity offers new perspectives and insights that help teams innovate.
The importance of creating a team culture
At the end of the day, the success of a company highly depends on high-performing teams. As an HR manager, you can contribute to this success, by building the perfect team for the company. But, in order to assemble this dream team, first, you need to lay the foundations of the desired team culture. That’s how you’ll know you’ve found the perfect leader and the perfect teammates: they’ll naturally fit into the desired cultural framework.
To elaborate, team culture is a set of values and goals the team members share. Ideally, these values and goals are incorporated into a common vision and mission. A well-defined vision and mission statement serve as a compass for the team. Put differently, the team’s vision and mission are automatically generated by the team culture, and vice versa.
When the team members agree with this cultural framework, they’re more likely to feel they belong. People who feel this way, enjoy their jobs, have healthy work relationships and are motivated to do their absolute best, every day — that’s the perfect team for you, right there!