A leading business writer has outlined the five elements to highly productive teams.
“We did some informal research to see what high-performing teams might have in common,” she wrote.
Using a framework developed from the research, Andersen found consistent features to successful teams.
1. Clear and compelling goals
According to Andersen, high performing teams have a clear understanding of the common goals, built into the team’s everyday actions and driving all decision making.
“You can tell when a team’s goals are clear and compelling, because team members are genuinely enthusiastic about them,” she wrote.
“Lower-performing teams tend to lack clear goals, or they have goals, but nobody really cares or talks about them.”
2. Clear and agreed-upon roles
Undefined roles tend to cause a team to perform poorly, where disgruntled team members pass the buck or try to find excuses for things that have been overlooked.
“Badly defined (or undefined) team roles lead to redundancy of effort, turf-grabbing, balls being dropped, and a lot of time being spent defending having done or not done things,” wrote Andersen.
“On high-performing teams, each person’s core responsibilities – the key things he or she is accountable for accomplishing – are clear to everyone on the team, and everyone sees how doing those things is going to contribute to achieving the goals.”
3. Simple, effective processes
Communication is key for in establishing a productive team. Establishing efficient processes should be a priority and the decision making process should be clear to all involved.
“Excellent teams have good, consistent ways of operating together. Communication, both formal and informal, is clear and effective,” Andersen wrote.
4. Agreed-upon measures of success
High performing teams have a good understanding of the measures of success, according to Andersen. Making success clear encourages team members to hold themselves accountable instead of blaming one another when the goals aren’t met.
“Poor teams, by contrast, often don’t have measures of success even if they have goals,” she wrote.
5. High trust
Andersen considers trust to be the most significant of the five elements of a good team.
“Trust on a team works as a lubricant: if you have trust, it’s easier to get everything else to work better,” she wrote. “And, conversely, if people don’t trust each other, even putting the other four elements in place isn’t going to make things work smoothly.”