Teams are a collection of individuals with complimentary skills who are seeking to achieve a specific result or results.
It might be to reduce wastage, improve throughput, increase sales or better determine project costs to name just a few.
Effective teamwork relies in the conditions being created that facilitate effective teamwork. So what areas require attention?
The first condition for effective teamwork is to get the purpose clear. If you don’t know what the purpose of the teams work is, how will you know if it is achieved?
A good question to ask is what are we here to achieve as a team?
The greater the clarity you get on this the easier it will be for the team to focus on the right thing. Another way of getting to your purpose is to consider what will be different when the team has completed its work.
No team will ever be effective unless it has the right people with the right skills on it.
Team selection is challenging but important. Sadly in my experience it’s one of those areas where there is insufficient focus when it comes to recruiting staff.
As well as people having knowledge of their own area, they need to have the right attributes to build trust, rapport and relationships with others.
For a team to exist and achieve there needs to be dependency.
By dependency, I mean that the performance of one part of the organisation needs to be dependent on one or more other areas to achieve results.
For example, an organisation might decide that it wants to cut energy costs by 5% and set up a team to achieve it. The Finance Director might well be the person reporting back but will be dependent on areas like purchasing, estates management and a management accountant to achieve that outcome.
For effective teamwork, team members need to be committed to delivering on their piece of the jigsaw.
In addition, there needs to be accountability to the team and the team results. This is radically different to the norm which places huge emphasis on individual accountability and takes time to develop.
One of the real advantages of teams is that there is access to a greater range of skills, experience, knowledge and personal attributes than there would be in one individual.
This diversity is what in many ways makes teamwork so powerful.
Exploiting the benefits of this diversity does not happen overnight. It takes teams time to build up that trust and it is important to allow the time for that to be created rather than trying to force the pace.
In building a physical object, strong foundations need to be created if it is to be a success. Teams are no different. Their success depends on creating the conditions for effective teamwork.
So what do you need to do to improve team effectiveness?
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.