What makes a great team?

This is a guest article written by Sarah Cook, author of Building a High-Performance Team – Proven techniques for effective team working . The author’s views are entirely her own and may not reflect the views of IT Governance.

Most people at work belong to a team. Working in a high-performing team is motivating and ensures organisational success. But what makes a great team? In this blog, I discuss the characteristics of successful teams and provide you with an assessment tool to use with your team to identify what’s working well as well as areas for improvement.

Look both inside and outside the work environment and you’ll find the common characteristics of successful teams are:

A common purpose

  • High-performing teams have a strong vision, and clearly defined and commonly shared objectives.

Clearly defined roles and responsibilities

  • Team members have a clear understanding of individual roles and responsibilities. Everyone knows what is expected of them.

Strong leadership

  • An effective team leader balances the need to provide direction with the need to empower team members, recognising that for the team to achieve their objectives, they need to engage all members of the team.

Trust and commitment to the team

  • Mutual support and trust is key in a team. Often in poorly performing teams, people do not take time to get to know fellow team members. It is difficult to build trust if you don’t feel able to share thoughts and experiences.

Open communication

  • Knowing what is going on and what the future holds, recognising successes and setbacks, and having the opportunity to contribute and provide feedback are all part of great communication. Likewise, it’s important that team members can express differences of opinion and values.

A cooperative climate

  • A cooperative rather than a competitive climate is important in the team. There will be times when individuals need to put aside their own needs and subordinate these to help the team achieve its goals.

Great contributions

  • In high-performing teams, individuals use their strengths to help the team achieve its goals. Everyone contributes to the team on an equal basis.

How great is your team?

Use this quick assessment to identify your team’s strengths and development areas. Make sure that everyone in the team undertakes the assessment, and then compare the results:

Sarah Cook is the author of Building a High-Performance Team – Proven techniques for effective team working, published by IT Governance Publishing.