As we look forward to the new year, many of us begin to think about setting personal resolutions in an effort to better ourselves and our lives. We’re going to eat out less, exercise more, learn a new language, or pick up an old hobby.
When we manage to stick to them, New Year’s resolutions can serve to better our work environments, too. The ongoing success of an organization hinges on the resilience and cohesiveness of its teams, so a worthy workplace resolution is commiting to build a stronger, higher performing team in 2024.
Let’s take a look at some of the key elements shared by the most effective teams.
Purpose: The North Star of High-Performing Teams
Successful teams are strengthened by a shared purpose.
Today’s remote work arrangements and hybrid schedules have caused workers to be more dispersed. This new normal makes cohesive teams and team connection more challenging – yet evermore important.
Teams that lack physical proximity can still remain connected through intentional leadership and effective communication. A well-constructed purpose statement can be a team's North Star, illuminating its path and guiding its steps. It defines the reason a team exists and outlines its contribution to the organization.
A team’s stated purpose motivates its members and aligns their efforts toward a common goal. It is the driving force behind their collective actions, and no team can perform at their highest level without it.
Clarity: Understanding Roles and Tasks
For a team to function effectively, its members should have a clear understanding of their individual roles and responsibilities. This can help employees appreciate their personal strengths (as well as those of their coworkers) and recognize how their collective efforts contribute to fulfilling the team’s purpose and larger goals.
Clarity around roles also helps to eliminate ambiguity, minimize confusion, and prevent stress and frustration – few things are more aggravating than discovering you are duplicating efforts by working on a task someone else had already been assigned.
Communication is crucial for providing clarity. Effective leaders set the tone by being open and cultivating a psychologically safe and supportive culture of collaboration for the entire team.
Communication between team members is also important – an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing ideas, voicing concerns, and expressing needs will also encourage needed information to be shared in an effective and timely manner to promote the clarity high-performing teams need.
Psychological Safety: The Cornerstone of Trust and Innovation
Psychological safety is essential to fostering an inclusive culture that engages employees, promotes creativity, and fuels team performance.
When employees feel they’re walking on eggshells, always trying to impress a critical supervisor or nervous they could be reprimanded for inconsequential decisions, they become hesitant to extend themselves and take creative risks that enhance their performance potential.
Performance and creativity flourishes in psychologically safe team environments where employees trust their contributions are valued and their innovative ideas are invited.
At the core of accelerated innovation is the belief that every idea, no matter how small or where it comes from, has the potential to spark groundbreaking change. Safe team cultures encourage that – they include and listen to all team members to leverage their collective intelligence and creativity for team success.
Strengths: Leveraging Unique Contributions
Effective team leaders take the time to identify and develop their employees’ unique strengths. They see and embrace their deep thinkers, their analytical minds, their doers and implementers, and their promoters. And they leverage their skills and differences to enhance team performance.
Smart leaders allow their team members to lean into their strengths, while also making them aware of possible blind spots, calling out behaviors that detract from constructive collaboration or contribute to conflict between coworkers.
By allowing individuals to play to their strengths, teams optimize their performance potential and foster a sense of accomplishment and confidence among their members.
Needs: Meeting Needs Contributes to Success
Leaders of high-performing teams recognize that their contributors can only perform at their best when their workplace needs are met. Since these needs typically go unspoken, however, it takes time and effort from leaders to uncover them.
Some may need face time with leaders to feel acknowledged. Others may prefer a variety of projects to stay engaged. Still others may require time to process a new direction or change in strategy. Neglecting employees’ needs can lead to unproductive stress behaviors that hinder personal and team performance. Meeting the psychological, social, and emotional needs of team members supports their personal development as well as the team’s success.
Cheers to a Happy New Year
Building stronger, higher-performing teams is an ambitious but attainable New Year's resolution for organizations seeking growth. By focusing on purpose, clarity, psychological safety, and team members’ strengths and needs, business leaders demonstrate a genuine commitment to enhancing performance and setting their team on a path to excellence in 2024.
For more on creating high-performing teams and leveraging the power of The Birkman Method®, visit our website. Birkman’s High-Performing Teams Program can help leaders build an environment that fuels team performance and organizational growth.