Characteristics of an Effective Team

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As a manager and leader, part of your role is to create and support the development of effective teams.

Studies on how teams function have identified the following important characteristics that make an effective team (Robbins, Bergmann, Stagg & Coulter, 2009, p.577-579);

Clear goals. When team members know what they are expected to achieve and understand how they should go about accomplishing it, they are well on their way to becoming a high performance team. One way to achieve this is by consulting and involving your team in the development of work goals and objectives.

Relevant skills. Teams are high performing when they are composed of members with the necessary skills (both technical and interpersonal) and knowledge to carry out the tasks of the work group. One way to achieve this is by making sure you are careful during recruitment and selection to include a mix of skills that are needed for your team. The other option is to provide your team member with relevant training to develop their skills and knowledge.

Mutual trust. Effective teams are characterised by a high level of mutual trust among them. Team members believe in each other?s integrity, ability and character. This climate of trust in the team is usually influence by the climate of trust that is in the whole organisation. Be wary of modeling or encouraging gossip and destructive criticism. Rather, encourage and model honesty, openness and collaboration.

Commitment. Successful teams are united in their commitment toward the team?s goals and are willing to dedicate energy to achieving them.

Effective communication. Effective communication amongst team members is characterised by a mix of effective strategies (modes of communication, styles of communication) as well as readily giving and receiving feedback to share ideas and feelings.

Negotiation skills. Effective teams are also characterised by adopting a flexible attitude regarding the job roles of team members. This requires the ability to negotiate, problem solve and be flexible regarding job roles.

Leadership. Leadership style is also an important element in the mix of what makes up an effective team. As we have seen in Section 2, leadership style needs to be matched to suit the need of the team and its function.

Support. All teams need a supportive environment in order to achieve their goals. Support can be made up of a number of things such as training, fair performance measurements, adequate resources and a supportive HR system (adapted from Robbins, Bergman, Stagg & Coulter, 2009). You can foster excellence and quality outcomes in your team by:

  1. providing a vision
  2. providing goals that ?stretch? team members and give them opportunities to use their talents
  3. making sure organisational values are shared



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