Six ways to make teams work

The term team has been in vogue for some time. However, few companies leverage the dynamic power of teams. Here are six suggestions that help transform a group of individuals into a team.

#1. Teams solve problems. A team’s agenda should be problems that require solutions. Problems open minds and clarify solutions. For example, saying our problem is a 12% downturn in sales is better than saying, how can we increase sales? Additionally, stating problems offers participants an opportunity to provide creative solutions that may exceed expectations.

#2. Teams are authorized to act. Don’t call a collection of coffee sipping individuals who gather to make recommendations to higher ups a team. Call them an advisory committee. If you’ve adopted a team approach to a problem, give the team authority to dedicate resources, assign tasks, create accountability, and establish time-lines.

#3. Team members matter. Teams have vitality when each participant believes their perspective counts. If participant comments don’t matter, it’s quicker and simpler to forego discussions and announce the decision. Of course, if input doesn’t matter, you don’t have a team.

#4. Teams decide by consensus. It may be difficult for leaders to surrender decision making. However, passionate buy-in by team members is rooted in meaningful participation in decisions that matter. If ultimate decision making is reserved for the “team leader,” you don’t have a team. You have a decision maker with advisors.

#5. Team members are accountable. Slackers sap enthusiasm. If a team member arrives unprepared, I suggest you immediately stop the meeting and reschedule.

#6. Teams disband. One reason teams don’t work is they live too long. If you’ve framed the team’s agenda as a problem, you’ll know when the team has achieved its objective. Kill it once it’s done.

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What makes teams work? Do you have a team success story, a tragic story?