Effective Teams In The Real World

In a world that judges based mainly upon individual performance, most of today’s performance measurement tools are catered toward individuals not teams. But in the real world – in the working world- the world in which we live, things generally get done (or don’t) by teams. American businessman Sam Walton, who founded Walmart and Sam’s Club sums it up when he says, “individuals don’t win in business, teams do.” The theory goes that the whole, i.e, the team, should be greater than the sum of its parts, i.e., individuals. Thus working together in teams should, in theory, unlock an individual’s key strengths and allow more to get done when individuals work as a collective whole.

Theoretically effective teams should achieve results when high individual performers are brought together into a team, but daily working experiences tell us that this isn’t always the case. Reality is often different as personalities can collide, cliques form, and egos clash, often not only resulting in more work for management, but also in less productivity in and less value for companies. So what does it take to bring a group of people together and create more than the sum of each part? What does it take to bring talents, strengths, weaknesses, and egos together in a harmonious way? That is the topic Training Magazine is considering in this month’s issue and one that still stumps most managers.

Although building effective teams can be more of an art than a science, here are three simple and proven ways to develop effective teams in the real world:

1. Unity of Purpose from Leadership. Ultimately teams work well when they are united around a vision they can buy into. Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft says, “Teams should be able to act with the same unity of purpose and focus as a well motivated individual.” Simply put, once a leader instills in the team this vision and unity of purpose, they are better positioned to be effective at achieving their objective.

2. Work Together. Not everyone will be a fantastic salesman or saleswoman and that is okay. Recognize and compensate for inherent weaknesses by working together. Sam Walton’s advice: We’re all working together; that’s the secret. Henry Ford, the American industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company once said, “if everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

3. Focus on individual and team strengths. When we look at our individual strengths and focus on bringing those strengths to the table, we are creating a positive dynamic which can be contagious in a group, allowing strengths to shine through and empowering a team to achieve more than they thought possible and certainly more than they could do individually. Legendary National Basketball Association coach Phil Jackson, who is considered the greatest NBA coach of all time says, ”the strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”