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Every Team Member Should Know How to Build an Effective Team

My parents were both U.S. Marines. 

Graphic Showing Members Salute to the Military LeaderThey knew about top-down management, respect and authority. They also knew a few things about building effective teams. 
In the workplace, unlike the military, there seems to be a dichotomy between command-and-control and heart-and-soul. Workplaces tend to be one or the other. Strong senior-ranking managers often have weak teams. 

It happens when authority is over-played. It's a result of power-mongering. Trying to consolidate power at the top and driving decisions one direction (down) disempowers other members of the team.

But there's another cause that's often harder to spot. Team effectiveness is sometimes the result of well-intended managers who try to protect their direct reports from more work. By sheltering them for additional responsibilities, they believe they can make them happier and less stressed. 

One of the things these well-meaning managers do to keep work off other people's plates is taking solo responsibility for building the team. They think they're helping when, in actuality, they're limiting team effectiveness and growth. 

Here's how to build an effective team: Get everyone involved!

That may sound messy and inefficient. It's not. Effective teams are the sum total of their parts. All the parts have a stake in making the team successful. Given the chance, team members prefer to be engaged in building something they can be proud of.

A word of caution. This will backfire if it's merely a redistribution of work under the guise of team effectiveness. Getting everyone involved means giving everyone some latitude and authority and trust to contribute to the team.

Encourage people to share their ideas. Let team roles and responsibilities be determined by team members, at least to some extent. Give the team some decision rights.  

Leave it up to the team to buid their own effectiveness. Allow every individual on the team access to see how it's done and to be a part of making it happen. 

You don't need special training on how to build an effective team. All you need is a shared goal.

Sure, as a team coach and facilitator, I'd like to tell you that you need special programs and training to make this happen. 

But I'd be lying. What you need most of all is a shared goal that everyone on the team understands and is inspired by. With a shared goal, teams rally in ways that defy reason and training. Shared goals create strong bonds and drive. 

I can teach people how to get along and how to work together more effectively. But I can't manufacture shared goals, the absolutely essential place to start. 

Once a few figure out how to build an effective team, the culture of your workplace may change rapidly.

The power of a self-determinant team, one that is responsible for their own effectiveness and for achieving their goal, is unparalleled in business. 

When people see this happening, they will want it for their teams, too. By creating teams where people are ennobled and enabled, you'll see a boost in employee engagement and the domino effect of increased productivity and profitability. Team members will also be reaching their personal goals thanks to the shared goal and the power of team work.

This kind of success and workplace satisfaction is contagious. By opening up the opportunity, you will change the culture. Or, better said, the members of your effective teams will -- by their very example -- be the ones who make that change.  

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The CONNECT2Win Blog has been discontinued. The CONNECT2Lead Blog continues, and you'll find free and affordable resources for team on People First Leadership Academy