Few would dispute that when teams are really at their best, they are fun to be part of and deliver great results. So when thinking about teams, what do you need to focus on to get the best from teams?
Have a clear purpose
All of the best teams that I was part of when working in mainstream finance or consultancy roles had a very clear purpose. For example, when I was part of a team forming one of the first diagnostic and treatment centres through a public private partnership, what we had to achieve was crystal clear. Negotiate the best deal, get the facility up and running and treat 12,000 patients a year. The clarity of purpose meant that everyone was clearly focused, knew what was required and was aiming in the same direction.
Right size the team
One of the problems that often arises is that teams simply become too big. In my experience, there is often a confusion between a team and a committee. The former is small and results focused. The latter is often large, bureaucratic and ends up being a bit of a talking shop. Interestingly, research suggests that to get the best results from a team, it should have a membership of between 3 and 7 people.
Get the right people on the team
One of the real benefits of teams is that they bring together people with different skills, experience, knowledge, attributes and perspectives. Taking the time to pull together a team with a range of different contributions is really valuable. For example, at the moment many organisations are having to make changes in working practices or to how they operate. By having the diversity of contributions, there is a greater probability of changes not just being made but also being sustained over time.
Work on building trust
One of the big areas that most of us are hesitant about is putting our faith in others. As accountants we tend to be very driven and at the same time quite risk averse as a general rule. Truth is building trust is not something that happens overnight. It takes time and a willingness of all parties to build it. Don’t try to force the pace on this and allow people the time and the space to build confidence in each other.
Make the decision process clear and transparent
Good team working is not about getting consensus all of the time. While this might be an ideal, it is rarely achievable 100% of the time in practice. On the other hand if people know what the process is for reaching decisions and have the opportunity to put their point of view across, they are more likely to support the decisions reached, even when it is not their preferences.
Respect each others contributions
The accountants don’t need to be best buddies with the folks in marketing, who in turn don’t need to be best buddies of sales or production. However, they need to be able to work together in the best interests of the organisation and the various stakeholders. Sometimes (and I know I have been as guilty as the next person) we want to be the expert in everything rather than standing back and listening to those who are the real experts in a particular area. Focus people on listening to the contributions of others if you want to get the best from teams.
At the end of the day, teams can make a huge difference to the results delivered so take stock of what is working and what is not working and implement the changes to deliver better results.
Duncan Brodie of Goals and Achievements helps organisations improve team working. If you enjoyed this blog post you can learn more here
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 6,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.