4 characteristics of successful teams and how to make them work for you

The dynamics of a successful team include relationship building, clear objectives and more. Photo credit: Getty Images/UberImages

Many leaders (especially new ones) are not aware of the following four characteristics of successful teams, much less how they work together to promote successful team dynamics:

  • Objectives: The team must understand and accept common objectives.
  • Roles: Each team member must know how he or she fits into the overall picture.
  • Guidelines: Team members must understand the systems and methods to be used to accomplish goals.
  • Relationships: Team members must develop trust and respect for one another before they can come together for a common cause.

Individuals will only think and act as "managers" when focusing on the tactical aspects of business, or the first three characteristics. These speak more to the “cognitive engagement” of team members. However, managers evolve into “leaders” when they focus on maximizing the most weighted characteristic, i.e., relationships. Indeed, research shows that “emotional engagement” with a brand promise or mission drives the greatest loyalty and performance. This lesson typically is not taught in business programs, but rather is learned the hard way during one’s climb up the corporate ladder. Save some time by using the cheat sheet below to foster more effective teamwork.

As a leader, it is your responsibility to build and maintain layers of positive relationships throughout the organization.

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  • Individual team members: Show that you care and will lend support if needed.
  • Team as a whole: Provide direction, guidance and inspiration.
  • Relationships among members of the team: Promote positive, productive relationships.
  • Relationships between your team and the entirety of the company: Team goals should go hand-in-hand with company objectives.

Now that you’ve developed positive relationships with your employees, you should have no problem getting high productivity from your team. Here are a few tactics to increase productivity through effective teamwork:

  • Make the work environment enjoyable.
  • Have fun together.
  • Provide training so individuals feel they are being invested in, as well as staying current and marketable in their competency set.
  • Give the team a common cause.
  • Cultivate interdependence among team members.
  • Team members should know each other and understand each other’s strengths, so they can trust and leverage each other as needed.
  • Use challenges to strengthen bonds. It is a well-known psychological principle that rivals often become allies when working on solutions to common problems.
  • Use a buddy system to begin working together, especially when helping to orient and on-board new hires.
  • Develop a team slogan, symbol, etc., if appropriate.
  • Recognize both team and individual accomplishments in public ways, as appropriate.

Promoting teamwork can be very fulfilling for everyone involved. It strengthens employee bonds and enhances your leadership abilities. 

Keith Kefgen and James Houran are the CEO and managing director of Aethos Consulting Group, a hospitality-focused human capital advisory, and the authors of Loneliness of Leadership—the result of a three-year study of C-suite executives in lodging, restaurants, gaming and other hospitality sectors. Kefgen can be contacted at [email protected] and Houran can be reached at [email protected].

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