Building Teams

7 min. read

Strategies to build teams whether remote or in person. It takes trust and teamwork.

How to build a team

Building a team takes time and effort and both the skill itself, and the team need to be nurtured. It cannot be taken for granted that individual team members will work well together. Remote teams throw up even more variables. Trying to keep employee engagement high and use teamwork to get things done is all well and good but without a culture of trust, you won't be able to access the true potential of your team. A lack of trust can be fatal for a team and an organization as a whole. Leaving a team to wallow in its mediocrity is not the role of a team leader.

Managing personalities together and making key decisions at the right time all contribute to success, however, if there is no trust in your team you won't be able to reach the heights you all could when you are working together. Your company culture is up to you to build. High-performing teams have a culture of trust. The importance of trust cannot be overstated for a leader of a team. If the team as a whole believes that they can trust you as their leader as well as each other, their communication is above par and their collaborative efforts are heightened. They bond and become a unit. This shared sense of identity comes from a group understanding which boosts their performance to new heights

Here are 6 ways to build your team.

1. Lead by Example

Lead from the front. Be the type of team member you want. Setting a great example every day through thick and thin is your priority as a leader. This means your community will be built through communication. Be sure to be open and honest at all times. Your job is to increase trust between the team members. It is also to build trust from your team members towards you as the leader. Trust is earned through shared experience. Don't let your team down and they won't let you down in return.

2. Communicate Openly

Communicate to people without hiding things from them. Be aware of decreases in messaging from your team. When communication flags it can be an indicator of deeper issues. Dealing with your team members in an honest way, even if you have to tell them you don't have a definitive answer, this will build more trust than dishonesty. And if there are any issues that arise, have a one-on-one if possible with the team member who is not happy for whatever reason, and apologize if you are at fault. They may have had their feelings hurt during a meeting where something was said inadvertently. Or a thousand other situations may arise where personalities clash, but the bottom line rule here is stay in good and open communication with your team at all times.

3. Speak the truth

Lying to your team at any point will pour poison on the ground you have so carefully tended. One slip-up in this regard and you will be dead in the water. Trust is built in truth. As soon as falsehoods enter the scenario it begins to erode the goodwill immediately. Trust-building takes time and the whole team needs to trust each other from the top all the way to the bottom and vice versa. "I don't know." is an acceptable answer. "No." is also an acceptable answer. If you don't know, tell them. Obviously you can be diplomatic about it, but don't lie to your team.

4. Don't Place Blame

If it gets to a stage where everyone is pointing fingers at each other you are entering a cycle of blame which is not productive. It stifles creativity and derails progress. All your hard work is lost because trust evaporates when people are blamed. It creates an atmosphere that is unpleasant at best and at worst it could fracture the team irreparably. Owning responsibility is a far more productive path, and a leader can lead by example here. "Sorry guys that was totally my slip up. I apologize." A simple statement like that can set the precedent for accepting responsibility rather than assigning blame. And remember, responsibility and blame are two very different things.

5. Highlight successes

Highlight all the successes that your team achieves. This includes individual successes as well as team wins. Celebrating team members' wins can foster a feeling of cohesion as well as push some to competitiveness which in turn increases production. Overcoming vulnerabilities should also be celebrated. For instance, if a person on your team got nervous before a pitch meeting or client briefing but they knocked it out of the park you should celebrate the overcoming of a challenge as well as the company or team win. Acknowledgment goes a long way. Simply acknowledging that someone did a good job, or achieved a goal can not only make that person's day, but can set a tone for celebrating one another's successes within the team as well.

6. Collaborate

Collaboration often results in success. It doesn't matter whether you meet face to face or run a virtual team, you need to collaborate to win. Research backs this up. A joint study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and Rob Cross, Edward A. Madden Professor of Global Business at Babson College found that companies that used collaboration in their teams were 5 times as likely to be performing at a high level. If you aren't collaborating then you are missing out on a boost to your productivity and the morale of your team could suffer for it. A Stanford study found that team members who worked collaboratively were more engaged and stick to their task 64 percent longer than workers who toiled away alone. More importantly, they also showed lower fatigue levels and achieved a higher success rate.

7. Admit when you don’t know something

We covered this briefly above, but pushing forward blindly doesn't assist anyone in getting tasks done. All it does is kick the problem down the road a bit because the issue won't solve itself. If you don't know something and you try to pretend that you do, it could backfire on you very badly and destroy the trust you have so carefully built with your team. Collaboration between team members and leaders is also an essential part of trust-building. High levels of trust can be achieved by simply admitting that you don't know something. At times a vulnerability can be a strength.

8. Trust your team

Trust your team culture and trust in your team itself. If you can't delegate and leave them to their specific task or field of expertise without shadowing their every move and micromanaging their work, you can't have high levels of trust in the workplace because if you can't trust them they won't trust in you to let them get their job done. It causes a cycle of mistrust and takes away from job satisfaction. Brainstorming is one thing, but picking apart every step and trying to micromanage or bypass the person on your team will erode the employee engagement and rip out the core of trust built over time.

Use them all if you can. Your role as a leader is to sheperd the team through the trials and tribulations of getting the job done. It should result in job satisfaction and a culture if trust and colleagues who collaborate together and win as one as well as individuals.