Team building

Investing more in team work brings huge gains in team performance.

We can make huge gains with team effectiveness, morale, relationships, development, etc.

Here are some key features of high-performing teams that everyone should explore:

  1. Create a clear vision and purpose for your team. Where are you now, where are you going? What is the unique story that your team has and wants to build. The team should be involved in this process – they will commit if they have been part of the team’s identity and vision.
  2. Overcommunicate the vision. It should be ‘as subtle as a punch in the nose’ says @DanielCoyle. Make your vision part of every aspect of the team’s work. Vision, identity and purpose shouldn’t be confined to a beginning of year presentation or INSET session.
  3. Set ambitious team goals to create compelling direction. These should be challenging but could be about the journey and progress, not just outcomes. It’s important that team members are incentivised to help the team by making them just that: TEAM goals. Lots of research here
  4. Build belonging and trust. Invest time and effort in creating an environment where team members feel a connection with the team and its leaders. Competence, predictability, and emotional availability are great ways to build trust.
    As Owen Eastwood says, we constantly revaluate our levels of belonging, so creating belonging is dynamic and ongoing – does the lived experience of being in your team nurture belonging?
  5. Agree team values and behaviours. High-performing teams agree what their values are, how they will behave and why – this will then become the norm and just ‘who we are’ and ‘what we do’. This identity is important because people know what they stand for and what to expect.
  6. Psychological safety. Teams should feel safe to share ideas, make mistakes, and take risks. Safe teams perform better. Leaders can promote PS by being humble, asking for help, inviting participation, and using this platform to promote challenging goals. See @AmyCEdmondson
  7. Candour and conflict. It’s vital that a team is confident with communicating frankly. Conflict is / can be healthy, so it must be anticipated, prepared for, and viewed as a positive way to create debate and find solutions.
  8. Communication: successful teams agree about how they will communicate. Meetings vs emails, boundaries regarding communication. Clear processes to communicate and feedback. Agree as a team to ensure efficient communication and ensure opportunities for the team to feedback.
  9. Team debriefs. A powerful way to review processes and performance. They should be scheduled in advance, give everyone a chance to speak, and avoid blame. They are focused on growth and development – together. Research shows improvements in effectiveness for teams who debrief
  10. Shared mental models and role clarity. High-performing teams understand their roles, share knowledge, and can use this level of knowledge to both perform with cohesion, and to adapt when necessary. They codify processes and roles to minimise ambiguity and maximise clarity
  11. Knowledge and expertise. Great teams value and prioritise reflecting on their required knowledge, desired knowledge, and possessed knowledge, always looking to learn more and share their expertise. They identify persistent problems and the knowledge required to solve them.
  12. Building on knowledge… thriving teams embrace learning, development, and improvement – the team never stops trying to learn and improve, and all team members have access to learning.

Teaming is fascinating to explore. It is people-centred, human, compassionate, but also filled with meaty research that suggest some defined approaches to try and hone. It is intellectually stimulating, but yet puts relationships at the heart.

Ultimately, we want our teams to thrive, for the people in them, and those who are receiving our teams’ work (children, for most of us!)

Thanks to