Six ways to boost your team’s effectiveness

An important leadership skill is the ability to help your team function well under stress, and stay together through any tensions. As team members, you must all respect each other, believe you are all on the same side with the same goal, and have the same level of commitment to achieving it.

What happens to teams under stress?

Unfortunately, you may find that times of stress bring out patterns of poor team performance. We have seen previously collaborative teams indulge in:

  1. counter-productive internal competition.
  2. endless debate, losing the ability to make decisions and prioritise actions.
  3. staying in the comfort zone, with their shared history and backgrounds.
  4. lacking the diversity of perspectives, styles and experience necessary to succeed in a changed environment.
  5. assigning blame, and becoming ‘victims’ of events, instead of moving forward.

You could invest in ‘social styles inventories’ and ‘psychometric tools’ to understand individual personality profiles and the team composition. But in our view these are just part of the solution to achieving a high performance team.

There are six vital dimensions to achieving team effectiveness:

Alignment – the degree to which everyone on the team understands its larger purpose and focuses their actions and those of the team on that objective.

Resilience – the degree to which a team can hold itself together, even under severe internal or external stress and remain effective. There is clear trust and respect across team members, and they can debate issues and deal with conflict in a candid and constructive way.

Energy – the degree to which a team is ambitious, takes the initiative and maintains momentum at a high level over a long period of time. The group is energised by working together; team members volunteer to take things on and proactively share the load.

Openness – the degree to which a team engages with the broader organisation and the outside world, and challenges itself to adopt new information and best practice.

Efficiency – the degree to which the team optimises resources and time and drives efficiently for results. For example, all team meetings have clear agendas, schedules and rules of engagement for decision-making.

Balance – the degree to which a team understands the importance of a diversity of skills and strengths, and incorporates members with different experience, knowledge and functional skills. Also, how well different members of the team play different team roles, creating natural checks and balances.

In our experience, highly effective teams demonstrate competence right across these six dimensions – actually surprisingly hard to do. Often there are ‘elephants in the room’ – distracting mindsets and behaviours that can be frustrating and sap the energy of the team. These can get in the way of the effectiveness of otherwise extremely high-calibre individuals.

Most teams, in the rush of getting on with the ‘day job’, never discuss these vital issues – or only do so when something goes badly wrong! Only when you’ve created a stable platform can you mutually agree actions for moving the team forward.

Help your team get its mojo back

Raise your game with our Team Development programmes