Welcome back to the latest Time-to-Think article. Today, it’s Time-to-Think about how to build effective teams. In today’s complex and highly dynamic business world, building effective teams is more challenging than ever. Technology, busyness and complexity have become barriers to building effective teams. To overcome these barriers, we need to consciously and deliberately work to glue teams together.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with hundreds of teams over the last ten years or so. Based on those sessions, here are my 8 tips to help glue teams together:

  1. Have A Vision Of Success:    This tip may seem pretty obvious, but many teams don’t take the time to paint a clear vision of success for their team. This shared vision acts as a source of inspiration for the team. The vision helps provide the motivation to get out of bed in the morning, and come to work to perform at your best to help the team to realise the vision. The vision also acts as a guide for daily team actions through the team ensuring that actions are aligned with the shared team vision.
  2. Keep Teams Small:   A common trend that I observe in today’s business word is the tendency to build big teams. Building bigger teams is not always the answer to increasing effectiveness. Communication becomes more difficult when team size increases. I really like Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos’s two pizza team rule. This rules states that teams shouldn’t be larger than what two pizzas can feed. As group size grows, you simply can’t have as meaningful conversations, which is why people start breaking off into smaller clusters to chat. For Bezos, small teams make it easier to communicate more effectively which encourages momentum, high autonomy and innovation.
  3. Build Positive Relationships: Research conducted by Marcial Losada has shown that high performing teams have five positive interactions for every one negative interaction (5:1 positive interactions: negative interactions). An example of a positive interaction – “That’s a great idea!”. An example of a negative interaction – “I don’t agree with you!” Medium-performing teams averaged 1.9:1 positive interactions: negative interactions. The average ratio for the low-performing teams is 0.36 to 1 – that is almost three negative interactions for every positive one. The 5:1 ratio also suggests that some negative interaction is an essential part of the mix. Why is that? First, because of its ability to grab someone’s attention. Think of it as a “whack-on-the-side-of-the-head.” Secondly negative interactions guard against complacency and group-think. How can you increase the positive interaction:negative interaction ratio in your team?
  4. Give And Receive The GIFT Of Feedback:   It is important not to let frustration levels build up in teams. A great way to ensure that everything gets out in the open is by having frequent feedback loops built into team operations. Personally, I like the GIFT feedback model, where feedback is given and received as follows: G = Good, I = Intended, F = Feedback, provided in a Trusting environment.
  5. Take Time To Think Creatively:   In the modern complex business world, we wake-up every morning with problems that did not exist yesterday. We need to take time to think creatively as teams if we are to survive and thrive in this environment. Check out my recent article for more on creative thinking – “Top Tips To Inject Creative Thinking Into Your Workday” https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/10-tips-inject-creative-thinking-your-workday-jay-chopra/
  6. Have Fun:Research in the positive psychology arena shows that having fun at work opens us up to collaboration and helps make us more creative. Companies such as Google use Fun as a business strategy, helping them to create a collaborative, innovative and engaging work environment. When was the last time your team had fun?! 🙂
  7. Play Off Each-other’s Strengths:   High performing, effective teams consist of people that are team players, where the collective team goals and team status is more important than individual goals and achievements. These teams play to the strengths of their team members. They also mitigate their weaknesses by 1. Building capability in team members via training, coaching and mentoring 2. Collaborating with other team members that have complimentary skills and experiences.
  8. Be Accountable – Own The Result:   Effective teams push through the interpersonal discomfort to hold each other accountable on results. At the end of the day, the job of a team is to deliver results. Therefore, we must hold each other accountable on results if we are to be successful.

Coach’s Corner: What key points have you taken away from this article? What did you learn? What key actions will you take as a result? Who will hold you accountable on your actions?

I would love to hear some of your top tips also! Please feel free to post your thoughts as comments on this article. Please tune in next time for more Time-To-Think discussions. Thank you.


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