Talent is one of the driving forces of success in building a strong team. A book published in 2015, Talent Wins: The New Playbook for Putting People First, states that only two percent of employees affect a business’ success. The book lays down the structure of how companies acquire, handle, and deploy talent. And as many companies, especially in the tech industry, have now adopted this philosophy of talent-driven strategy, there’s a growing concern that talent may be overemphasized. In today’s business, however, success depends more on effective collaboration than on the performance of a single talented employee, even if that employee is a superstar.
As Michael Jordan once said, ‘Talents win games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.’
Importance Of Teamwork
Building a successful team is more than just hiring talented people and expecting them to work together and get things done. It doesn’t work that way. Hiring the right people and getting out of their way can be a powerful motivator, but leadership is not that cut-and-dried. Teamwork gets results. Teamwork wins championships.
To build a team that wins championships, you have to define what improvement looks like. Identify the area you’re trying to improve; a leader doesn’t just state that they want to ‘improve teamwork.’ To make sure the team works well together, a leader has to have a more hands-on approach. Remember, you and your team are trying to accomplish something that you haven’t yet done. So lay down your idea clearly of what an improved team looks like—whether you’re trying to increase sales, increase productivity, or create better technology that would benefit your customers.
Knowing The Team Is Half The Battle
After you’ve identified the ‘what,’ direct your attention toward how to achieve those goals. Set your goals and know your team members’ functions. Effective leaders spend around 20 days a year on activities related to team management, especially in today’s business world. Top executives know how their team collaborates most efficiently and know where to place individuals that best fit them. The success of the individual often translates to team success.
Understanding the benefits of teamwork, building an overachieving team, knowing how to improve teamwork concretely and tangibly—these should be on the top of your goals. Ditch the pablum and pedestrian precepts that unimaginative leaders use to inspire their teams.
Any business that values the importance of retaining their top employees and increasing profit also knows the importance of teamwork. Keep in mind that teamwork nurtures creativity and innovation, complements each member’s skills, and improves morale. Employees who know their strengths and weaknesses work together to form better partnerships. And this leads to helpful partnerships, creating stronger teams. Business results are directly affected by the strengths and dynamics of your teams.
A strong team starts with the individual. Team members that know each other’s strengths relate more effectively to one another. It creates positive dialogue, avoids potential conflicts, and improves group cohesion.
It’s All About Communication
It isn’t always easy for people to explain their best trait—they can say they’re organized, but ‘organized’ can mean something different to another. Use assessment tools to better understand and communicate with each other. Knowing where your people’s strengths lie, where they are most likely to thrive, is very useful.
That’s why communication among team members is important: it shows that each team member is valued. Sharing information with team members makes the team’s bond stronger. Not sharing information about what other team members are working on can breed distrust and affect morale. A degree of openness should be maintained among team members, even if the information doesn’t necessarily affect others on the team.
Team members who are in roles that fit their skills are highly motivated. And it can inspire others in the process. Great teams have these in common:
- They know and understand the strengths of everyone in their team.
- They see that the strengths and behavior of members are interwoven.
- They know that collaboration among team members inspire their strength’s development.
- Members use their knowledge of each other’s strengths to plan, analyze, and direct their next step.
Not all teams improve their teamwork in the same way, however, so it’s better if you establish goals and then consider how teamwork will achieve those goals.
Ask your team about their ideas regarding teamwork in the workplace. It would also help a lot to specify a simple goal that the team can achieve as a first step. Write down the goals you want them to achieve or improve to narrow their focus, then set a timeline for these goals.
Short- and long-term goals become the foundation for every task they set out to complete each day.
Setting goals is an important part of teamwork’s improvement. An individual is prepared to do his best when he knows his role and has time to identify his main motivation. Start by laying down what each team member is supposed to accomplish, but not necessarily how to accomplish it. Each member’s methods on how to accomplish those goals may differ, so you have to give them the leeway they need on what works best for them. After all, you hired qualified adults, so show your trust and confidence in them.
The next step should be to set up the foundation for quality standards for each of the team members’ tasks. Show them what your idea of quality looks like and they can deliver quality work. Remember that quality may look different for each team member. For instance, quality work is different for a sales manager compared with a tech developer. So you should define what quality work is for each of them.
Lastly, know the strengths of your team members. Let them reflect on what they do best and what impedes them from doing their best. Having clear goals, with everyone knowing their part and what’s expected of them, plus the right people at the right roles, you should be ready to get the show on the road.
Another thing a leader can do to improve teamwork is by giving recognition to employees’ achievements. Acknowledging your team’s excellence is a great incentive to have a repeat performance. They now have an idea of what quality work is—they’ve done it, and they can do it again. If something like recognizing your team’s excellence improves both teamwork and the company culture, then take advantage of it.
Moreover, recognition for a job well-done makes a team experience greater emotional loyalty with each other, which is one of the characteristics that define a well-connected team that affects the company culture. Other characteristics are:
- Trust: Knowing they can rely on and depend on one another.
- Teamwork: Understanding one another’s talents and skills and knowledge that these talents and strengths can help them face challenges together.
- Loyalty: Appreciation of the different skill sets of team members can develop lasting bonds.
Hire Character, Train Skills
It’s not always about 2%. Having Lebron James in your team is nice, but as history has taught us, the real key to success is teamwork, collaboration, and making the most of all the talent available to you. Besides, even James needed Davis, Rondo, and others to get that championship.
Talent is important and shouldn’t be set aside, however. Ideally, it would be great to hire someone talented and with character. The reality, however, is a company that is often faced with a choice of hiring someone either with the character or with skill, but not with both.
Like what former Porsche CEO and president Peter Schutz said, ‘Hire character. Train skills.’
A candidate might have an impressive set of skills, but if their personality doesn’t match the company culture, they wouldn’t be the right person. Skills can be taught; the character you either have or don’t have.