Team building isn’t all that similar to forming a team. It is not as simple as collecting a group of like-minded individuals. To build a good team, or a ‘dream team’, there are a lot of factors at play. It is as important as having good interpersonal skills, good communication, and emotional intelligence.
Team building exercises and activities have more than often been the brunt of humor brought to you by pop culture, but they sure are important, more than that, they exist for a reason – great teams are not a natural occurrence, creating shared experiences is an elaborate yet effective way of building camaraderie and fostering teamwork. Your teammates shouldn’t just be your colleagues, they must be your comrades.
Here are five things I have summed and I think are essential or important for team building, in a startup, –
Teams require a framework, a structure for its smooth functioning. Be clear about your goals, culture, and size of the team. Know your team. Get to know about each other’s skills, strengths, weaknesses, and embrace them. Define roles, responsibilities based on them. A traditional hierarchical structure causes no harm. It all the more helps for the clear, smooth, functioning of institutions, authorities, and establishments. The important thing is that it exists; is very prevalent and promotes accountability and action.
Having attributes, principles such as humility, respect, and empathy, get a lot done as a team. It is important to respect diversity and humor in your teamwork for you, not against you. Ideally, you should create an environment where all team members understand the value of respecting each other’s backgrounds, preferences, and differences.
Several issues in an organization even before arising and becoming a ‘major problem’ can be resolved by good and thorough communication. They can be solved or avoided completely with clear and honest communication. Proactive communication is what you should look for. Encourage a culture in which your team members keep everyone informed on progress or roadblocks, and provide support and assistance without explicitly being asked and being ‘held accountable’- with this, you are also promoting a culture that values transparency and the free flow of information and ideas.
If you’re looking for a creative and innovative team, the worst thing you can do is to group people that are too similar to each other. Diverse groups, according to a study by NPR, produce far better results than homogenous groups.
While the study is primarily focused on ethnic diversity, there’s a wealth of evidence to suggest that diversity in all its incarnations benefits teams. People who are alike tend to think alike, and while working with people similar to yourself may be comfortable or familiar, you’re more likely to see great ideas or innovation come out of a more diverse team.
As they say – a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.
Last but by no means least, having a clear vision as a team helps a lot in meeting targets. Without a common goal, a team is ultimately just a group of people. It may be a well-educated, creative group of young go-getters, but it’s still just a group of people. It’s surprising, then, that there’s not more emphasis on explicitly outlining the core goals of a team prior to commencing any work. The issue is that there is often an assumption that all members of the team understand what needs to be done, and are approaching it with the same level of understanding and commitment.
Take, for example, a basketball team you start with your friends, to play in the local social league on weekends. It’s easy to assume that the common goal here would be to ‘win basketball games’. However, each member of your team may have goals that are variations on that. One person may believe that the goal is to make it into the finals, while another may believe that the goal is to simply not be at the bottom of the ladder. Someone else may have a goal of wanting to win, but not at the expense of fun.
Suddenly, you have a team of people that are approaching the goal of ‘win basketball games’ with wildly different levels of commitment and understanding – and this discrepancy can cause friction within your team.
The best way to combat this? Be very clear from the outset – before your team is even formed – of what your specific goals are.
And, that’s how the team works!