It is said that no man is an island, and in the case of top-performing companies, no singular employee overshadows the power and effectiveness of a strong team. From the executive branch that comprises the C-suite, to the teams of middle managers who are accountable for various strategic and tactical metrics, effective collaboration can’t be accomplished without exemplary teamwork.

But teams aren’t perfect. Recently, The Harvard Business Review explored team building in The New Science of Building Great Teams, citing that “communication, individual intelligence, personality, skill, and the substance of [the team’s] discussions,” are all critical metrics for a team’s success and integral to achieving enterprise transformation.

When mixing various personalities and communication styles, problems and growing pains invariably arise. That said, here are three proactive ways to position the teams you organize — or even the team you lead — for sustained success. 

1. Select Well: All too often, leaders select team members who bring nearly identical perspectives to whatever challenge they’re trying to tackle, from creating new products to revamping the corporate headquarters.

While it’s understandable that team builders want members to be aligned in their approach, teams are actually more effective when members have diverse experiences and different ways of thinking. A diverse team will challenge each other, and their leaders, to produce results that are unexpected.

2. Write it Down: Take the time, from the team’s first meeting, to make a charter. This document will list what Insigniam refers to as the “conditions of satisfaction.” These are the operational milestones the team should achieve—not necessarily the results—that must not be compromised in pursuit of the end result. The charter also clearly states each team member’s role and responsibilities, with particular emphasis placed on what team member is accountable for each deliverable and metric.

3. Hear it Now: Once you’ve carefully selected the team members and equipped them with clear roles and responsibilities it is time to show them some respect. Teams don’t function when team members can’t be heard, or when one member feels their presence or voice is not valued. From a cultural standpoint, this is perhaps the team leader’s most important job: Let everyone on the team have their say, and seek their input even when they don’t reach out with concerns.

By using these three points as a preliminary litmus test for your team’s effectiveness, you can proactively remedy the personality and communication problems that often manifest within the team dynamic long before they cause breakdowns.

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