"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." "Teamwork makes the dream work." "There is no ‘I’ in the team."
These commonly repeated expressions may be cliché, but there’s a reason that we see them taped up on office doors or in company newsletters. When teams work cohesively, they achieve more success. But it's important as a leader to put together healthy teams that work well together.
Below are the qualities that make for a cohesive, high-performing team. Take a look at their insights and see if your team exhibits these characteristics.
1. Structure And Clarity
Basic structure and clarity on a team are critical. All team members need clearly defined roles and goals. If there is no structure or clarity around the fundamentals, performance suffers and frustration, demotivation and alienation ensue. Team leaders must ensure that all team members understand the objectives of the team's work and how each member can uniquely contribute to those objectives.
High-performing teams are comprised of people who consistently hold themselves accountable. There is no need to waste time managing each other or blaming each other when things go wrong when we take initiative and take ownership of issues. Teams with high accountability prioritize achieving results that impact the overall organization.
Communication is key to creating a cohesive thought and narrative on your team. It's not about forcing a thought on your team, but rather offering a common narrative and collaborative thought process. This communication ultimately ends in a higher-performing team that everyone can get excited about because they were a part of the narrative and the idea.
Trust is a necessary quality that provides a level of reassurance to individuals working on a team. It is important that people feel emotionally safe to be vulnerable, take risks and share ideas. Trust forges strong, cohesive teams where each member is able to align for a common purpose.
A self-aware team that is open and honest, able to manage conflicts and take accountability will always interact better. You can build self-awareness by encouraging team members to ask for feedback, conducting team assessments to facilitate an understanding of unique team member styles, having a clear team charter and operating principles and holding team members accountable for commitments they make.
Without empathy, teams can only do so much together and will focus on transactions. When all are truly curious about and compassionate with each other, teams can transform into purpose-driven units that exceed expectations and drive meaningful results. These results are the outcome of care because they did it with and for each other.
A spirit of joy and fun for the people, the organization or the work itself goes a long, long way. Not every team project contains fun for all of those at once, but so long as you can find fun and joy in at least one of those, the team's engagement and passion for the purpose will be stronger for it.
Take some time to identify, communicate and leverage your team’s diverse strengths, perspectives and experiences. Creating a safe space for effective challenges and establishing a title as an agnostic environment—inviting diverse inputs to create robust and innovative strategies.
Psychological safety is key to a high-performing team. A strong team that has a safe environment to work, has healthy conflict and strong communication can work through anything. Leaders should create an open environment where all voices are heard and supported.
Teams whose members have the freedom to express their ideas and opinions, without facing extreme pushback or negative consequences from management, experience the most positive and productive outcomes in terms of performance. In that working environment, creativity can flow freely, allowing for new concepts, processes and ideas to be heard from a variety of voices without any personal or professional risk to employees.
Building a diversified, cross-collaborative team that has a high trust level to work on a common purpose is the key component of the team dynamics for any high-performing team.
12. Shared Values
Shared values and a sense of higher purpose. When employees feel they are working toward something larger than their role, teamwork and engagement levels rise. Instilling a sense of shared values is foundational to building a robust and resilient team that delivers success over the long term.
13. Healthy Debates
Teams who see the constructive debate as a positive that leads to a better outcome tend to be more productive, innovative and trusting of each other.
A high-performing team has everyone working together for a common goal or purpose. When the entire team is working towards the same thing, it multiplies their collective efforts and they are able to accomplish much more.