Teams A-Z


Whether you’re working virtually with your team-mates, or getting together face-to-face, now’s a good time to recap what teams are all about. Here’s my A-Z of healthy, happy, high-performing teams.

Successful team members hold themselves and each other accountable. They commit to the team’s plan.

People identify with the team, its purpose, goals and capabilities. Bonds are strengthened by social gatherings and small celebrations.

Team members co-operate and work together. Team members’ contributions are sought and welcomed. Find out more about cross team collaboration.

There’s healthy debate within the team and differing points of view are given fair hearing.

Team members don’t just turn up for work each day; they are ‘positively present’, find meaning in their job and want to do their best work.

Clear, actionable feedback is elicited, given and received. Feedback within the team and from its stakeholders is integral to how the team functions.More on feedback in teams from The Feedback Book blog.

Ground rules
Team members are clear on the team’s ground rules – ‘how things get done around here‘. Disagreements are dealt with constructively, openly and fairly.

People think of others before themselves. Big egos dominate and damage teams. ‘Humility isn’t thinking less of ourselves; it’s thinking of ourselves less’ – C.S. Lewis. See ‘The Ideal Team Player’ author Patrick Lencioni’s TEDx for more.

The team includes members and colleagues of different ages, gender / orientation, ethnicity and from different cultural backgrounds.

Team members have complete clarity about their role, why it exists and what is expected. The requirements for promotion to the next role up are clear.

People share their knowledge freely and team members apply their expertise to support colleagues.

People make learning a habit, in the flow of everyday work as well as engaging in formal learning to build knowledge and skills.

Team meetings enable all members to contribute suggestions and ask for input from others. Meetings end with clear action points, detailing who’s doing what, by when. See my post, ‘6 common complaints about meetings and what to do about them’.

People build their networks beyond the immediate team, within and beyond the organisation. External contacts can broaden the team’s perspective and knowledge.

Everyone is focused on results and clear on the necessary steps to achieve them.

Team members can articulate the team’s purpose: why it exists and how it contributes to the wider organisation.

People question each other about current ways of working and constructively challenge others’ opinions.

Team members regularly review progress during a project and on its completion, ensuring lessons learned are captured and shared.

Individuals are aware of their strengths and how applying them can benefit the team. People are honest about their weaknesses and acknowledge when they need support. Strengthscope© founder Dr Paul Brewerton shares his tips for finding your strengths (shameless plug: get in touch if you’d like to get your full profile).

Team members trust their team-mates and colleagues and are trusted in return. Harvard Business Review takes a close look.

In addition to working well together to get the job done, recognition, celebration and sharing reinforce team ties. Find out more about ‘celebrating the little wins’.

The foundation for effective teams is a set of values; they’re essential sat-nav for navigating the route to achieving goals. Values clarify the standards that team members will be held to. Find out more about choosing your core values.

Team members proactively maintain their health and wellbeing. People are comfortable discussing issues around mental health and watch out for each other.

Aristotle puts it better than anyone: “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choices of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”

When diverse teams work well, the members benefit – and so does the wider business. Gender and ethnic diversity on the executive team is correlated with above-average profitability, according to research by McKinsey.

Zero tolerance
Unacceptable behaviour is a) defined and b) called out if it happens. All team members are aware of what won’t be tolerated and the steps to deal with it.

So, how does your team compare?


Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’ and ‘How to be Zoomly at work’

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Image credit: Team-work-in-office – @AndrewRybalko – Depositphotos

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