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The Secrets to Building a Great Team

June 9, 2014 | Jennifer Goodwyn

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People in every workplace, no matter how large or small, talk about the importance of building a great team. Whether you own a start-up, are a member of the corporate world, or work in a virtual office environment, failures in teamwork can cause any business to fail. Although a group of individuals who work together can technically be considered a team, there are a whole range of psychological processes that need to be nurtured before the group can function well together and become a cohesive unit.

As a leader in charge of a group of employees, you may be wondering how you can transform them into a team. How do you do it? Where do you start? What plan should you follow in order to build an awesome team? Developing an overall sense of team camaraderie is different than building an effective, focused work team, both of which are important. Here's some tips for building a great team:

Character First; Talent Second

Any successful entrepreneur who has built and managed teams knows how important character is; it is better to have a slightly less-skilled salesperson with solid character, than a salesperson whose numbers are off the charts but who lies, cheats, and steals. Zappos, a company known for its emphasis on company culture, takes “cultural fit” seriously. If a potential employee fails to pass the cultural fit interview, which is 50% for the weight in hiring, they won't be invited to meet the hiring manager. When building a team, it's important to remember that you'll be working with this person day in and day out. If you love their work yet can't stand their attitude, the individual may not be a good long-term fit.

Mix Genders

Since women's social skills on average tend to be a little stronger than those of men, it's a good idea to incorporate women on the team. But, this doesn't mean you should take it to an extreme and focus on building a female-only team; it's all about the mix. Studies have shown that teams with equal gender mixes outperform male-only and female-only groups in a range of business exercises. Similarly, a Credit Suisse Research Institute report found that companies with at least some female board members have a better share of price performance than those that are men-only.

Give the Credit & Take the Blame

As a leader, it's important to build trust and respect within the team. Don't indulge in fault-finding or blame games. Publicly shaming an employee in front of other members of the team is the easiest way to spread negative vibes within the team, and will cost you time and quality in the long run. By celebrating every success and appreciating team members, you'll build a sense of camaraderie. Best done by being a coach and giving team members the freedom to make mistakes, a solid leader puts processes in place and ensures each team member holds themselves accountable. By appreciating and acknowledging the positive behaviors demonstrated by your team, you can help shape them into consistent practices.

Incorporate Both Introverts and Extroverts

In general, we tend to think of extroverts as superior “team players”: they mix better, thrive in social situations, pipe up more in meetings, and tend to get along with others more smoothly. But it's important to remember than introverts have their place on a team as well. While introverts won't be the first ones to volunteer for a public speaking event, they'll eventually grow to become a valuable part of a team and often contribute new ideas and strategies to the workplace. Studies have shown that, in general, as a team evolves, introverts perform better than people expect, and extroverts perform worse. 

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