Maybe you’re setting up a new department or a small team for an upcoming project. Or maybe you’d simply like see your current team get along better, or get things done faster with better results.
If you’re about to embark on putting a team together, here are three basics to keep in mind that will help ensure productivity and effectiveness:
1) Trust. Without trust, nothing else matters. Trust means mutual respect. It means the ability to speak up freely and ask questions without fear of judgment.
An effective team knows that working together and brainstorming is what leads to solutions. Everyone must feel that their most creative ideas—even the ones that seem crazy—are welcome in the team environment.
2) Commitment. Every member of the team must be committed to not only taking on assigned tasks, but also following through. We’ve all been on a team where someone did not do what they were assigned and someone else had to pick up the slack. Securing upfront commitment, interest and authentic buy-in from each team member is key.
What if one of the team members doesn’t care or isn’t interested? You must find a way to either engage this person, or kick them off the team.
3) Mechanics. Most teams need meetings, and meetings can be great brainstorming sessions or a waste of time. Keep these tips in mind to get the most out of your team meetings:
- Create an agenda and share it in advance. Include your goals for what you want to accomplish at the meeting.
- Stick to the time allotted for the meeting. Everyone is busy—no one wants to waste time on a meeting that runs too long.
- Designate a recorder who will take notes and distribute them to the team.
- Provide follow-up timeframes for everyone to stick to, and don’t be afraid to call someone out if they miss a deadline.
- Have some fun. Storytelling and lighthearted conversations are a great way to start a meeting. Consider bringing in some food. Avoid the traditional ice-breaker games at all costs—they can be awkward and uncomfortable.
For the best chance at success, everyone must come to the team open-minded. Not everyone will always be 100% happy with the group decision, but the group decision must be honored.
If everyone shows up with an open mind, participates in thoughtful discussion and trusts their fellow team members, the final outcome should be a positive one.
Danielle McHeffey is senior vice president of commercial insurance at Cook Maran.