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Building Exceptional Teams: Critical Factors: Part One

I was recently asked to identify the factors I considered critical in creating and developing exceptional teams. This request arose as a result of a conversation with a client about the reasons behind the shortage of exceptional equipment and the need, within the UK, for a significantly greater focus on equipment development as we lose the safety and comfort of the EU and organizations seek, out of necessity, the greatest benefits of teamwork and the greatest ROI of investment in equipment. This is an initial distillation of my thoughts:

1 Effective Foundation Communication

We live in a complex society, we play complex games; the language we use within a team can complicate any aspect of communication, leaving team members unable to make accurate interpretations. Simple, jargon-free, entry-level communication is the most critical factor in developing exceptional teams; Developing a communication system that prevents misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and misdirection is a key factor in any high-performance organization.

Judgment-free communication is part of the same factor; all too often the speaker will consider the responsibility for accurate interpretation and understanding to lie with the hearer and will judge that person according to that false notion; such an erroneous belief supports closed and covert communication, prevents confident expression, prevents verification of understanding, and as a result increases the possibility of miscommunication.

Teams develop their own communication system as they develop; This is likely to be most effective if the original seed language was simple, basic level English with no complications, especially when new team members join and need to adjust their interpretation to understand the new team language. Using simple English is a very underrated skill.

Team development action:

  • Encourage team members to explain ideas, instructions, requests, etc. in simple English;

  • Discourage the use of jargon and acronyms, etc.;

  • Avoid making assumptions about understanding by encouraging and supporting verification and clarification;

  • Encourage and support the notion that the speaker is responsible for ensuring that the listener understands his or her message;

2 Responsibility for the success and failure of each team member

Teams begin to form when people brought together by a common purpose realize that they create an advantage by taking responsibility for the success of others and by allowing others to contribute to their success. Without that catalytic initiative, people in a group may work together, but the team will not develop. It often happens that people work together, simply imagining that they are working as a team, never realizing the potential available through the interdependence that stems from interpersonal responsibility.

Inseparable from this notion is the fact that no two people are the same, that they have the same capacity for work, intelligence, knowledge and experience and, by taking responsibility for the success of each one, each member of the team will depend to a greater or lesser extent on others. to provide what they don’t have. The realization that one team member will need more support than another, one works faster than another, one has a more agile imagination than another, one has a propensity for logical evaluation, another has a particularly sensitive and intuitive mind, etc. it is likely to stimulate the growth of a culture of mutual support and acceptance, and lead to the realization that these differences are the team’s most powerful assets.

Team development action:

  • Encourage and support interpersonal responsibility;

  • Discourage protectionism of and within roles;

  • Promote the exchange of experiences and knowledge;

  • Embrace and nurture diversification; celebrate the variety of perceptions, preferences, abilities and skills, etc.;

  • Discourage the notion that cloning characters or roles is advantageous, that similarity is superior;

  • Take advantage of every idea, every point of view and every preference to exalt the advantages of variety and diversification and expand the potential to explore new territories;

3 same goals

Every member of an exceptional team is aware of the goals of the entire team. This differs from each team member being aware only of their own goals and the overall goal. Being knowledgeable about what the team intends to achieve, when and how is absolutely essential if a team member is to make a valuable contribution to the achievement of other team members; the greater their knowledge, the more likely they are to create or find an opportunity to make a contribution that is not within their own role.

The objectives are ranked according to function and time; For example, today’s sales targets indicate a contribution to longer-term organizational goals; Sharing goals at all levels is one of the most critical factors in maximizing team potential.

However, the perception and understanding of those objectives by each team member must be identical; otherwise, the value of the contribution is significantly reduced and quickly becomes a burden. Imagine being on the receiving end of a handful of contributions, each made with good intentions but without precise knowledge of the intended results. Responses to such contributions will most likely become a deterrent against future contributions.

Team development action:

  • Publish, clarify and share team goals, hourly, daily, weekly, etc.;

  • Allow each team member to openly express and explore their perception of the team’s goals;

  • Encourages investigation, exploration, and opportunism in creating opportunities to make a contribution to the overall team goals and the goals of each team member.

4 Clarity of purpose and responsibility:

Real clarity of purpose and responsibility is critical for each individual team member to avoid confusion, contradiction, and lack of direction and often a paid lip service factor, albeit without the necessary degree of detail and commitment. to ensure efficient achievement. I have found, on many occasions, a manager’s or team leader’s direction disseminated with insufficient detail about the purpose and associated responsibilities, leaving team members to later stumble their way to clarity during too long a period with the opportunity to waste and error when multiplying. Having also witnessed the psychological benefits of clarity of purpose and responsibility both in my own business and in other organizations I have worked with, I can attest that utter joy supersedes the negativity of such a state. That negativity erodes creativity, positivity and good character and can lead to team paralysis.

In any team there is a need for a clear description of the purpose or reason that team member is on that team and a clear identification of the parameters and subjects (recipients of benefits) of responsibility.

Team development action:

  • Encourage all team members to seek such clarity at the first available opportunity;

  • Take the time to describe the purpose of each team member;

  • Take the time to clearly identify the responsibility of each team member, for what, for whom and where, when and how;

  • Look for negativity, confusion and lack of direction and you will find the need for clarity;


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