As summer starts winding down, one leadership expert thinks now is the perfect time to work on team- building.
"Late summer is a great time to come back and start fresh," said Evelyn Williams, associate vice president for leadership development at Wake Forest University. "It’s a great time to kick off the fall and establish new patterns that are more functional and productive."
According to Williams, high-performing teams, which today's workforce depends on more than ever, are good at celebrating successes and embracing rapid change because they have a different dynamic than dysfunctional teams. More importantly, she said, they take the time to consider projects in terms of tasks, process and relationships.
When considering tasks, Williams advises teams ask themselves a number of questions when creating end goals, including:
- Are we clear about our end goals?
- Do we have the right people on the team?
- What are the roles and responsibilities of team members?
- Where do we want to go and how do we want to get there?
The process perspective is where a team determines the methods it will use to be most productive, which Williams said can be done by asking questions such as:
- How are we going to communicate? How can we streamline our communications?
- Who needs to make the decisions that will enable us to move forward? A lengthy approvals process will slow down the team.
- Do we have the right infrastructure to share information?
- How do we manage the journey from start to success?
"Teams should be thoughtful about how to be inclusive and supportive and develop a good brainstorming/decision-making process so everyone feels comfortable contributing," Williams said. "One idea is to appoint someone to be the devil's advocate during discussions, but be sure to rotate that role so that person is not seen as a negative force."
The final key in building successful teams is managing relationships. Williams advises teams consider things, including:
- What is the team's motivation?
- What are the values and beliefs we need?
- How can we tap into the energy and spirit of our team members?
"Many executives and managers forget about this perspective and it can be the most detrimental if it is not handled," Williams said. "Teams can be dysfunctional through a lack of trust, lack of respect, lack of commitment or the fear of conflict or accountability."
When putting teams together, Williams cautions against grouping friends with each other just to create a cohesive unit.
"Sometimes teams with too many friends have a hard time facing hard truths," she said. "Cohesion is more about respect and trust that you’ve got my back."