Keys to Successful Teams

Keys to Successful Teams

by Barbara Mitchell

Teams are a fact of the U.S. business world. But just because a team is created, it doesn’t mean it will be successful, and, for sure, it doesn’t mean there won’t be conflict. It’s important to take deliberate action to identify and remove barriers to successful teamwork. Here are some keys to consider:

Teams need a clear direction to be successful. They need a focus, a purpose, and knowledge of what is expected of them. Unclear expectations can derail even the strongest team and cause conflicts to occur. If team members have a clear vision of what they are expected to accomplish, and they take the time to develop how they will work together, conflicts can be held to a minimum — but remember, teams are made up of people, and where there are people, the potential for conflict exists!

Don’t leave team success to chance. When a team comes together for whatever reason, it’s important to set goals and establish team norms so that everyone has a clear idea of what they are to accomplish and how they will work together to accomplish the established goals.

Since whenever people come together there is the possibility of conflict, determining how the team will work together can help to minimize it. Taking time at the beginning to set the “team norms” — how the team is going to work together — can pay off down the road and help the team be more collaborative and more effective.

Here are some possible topics to be discussed and included in team norms:

Team members — “We value and honor each member of the team for what s/he brings to the team.”
Deadlines — “We agree to make every effort to meet assigned deadlines, and if it is not possible, to let the other team members know at least 48 hours in advance of the deadline that an extension is required.”
Meetings — “We agree that meetings will start and end on time, and an agenda will be shared at least 24 hours before the meeting.”
Record keeping — “We agree that notes will be taken and shared within 48 hours.”
Confidentiality — “We agree that team activities will be held in confidence.”
Decision making — “We agree that decisions will be made by consensus.”
Participation — “We agree that we all commit to being active in every way while a member of this team.”
Roles — “We agree that team leaders will be selected based on area of expertise and rotated based on project. Record keepers and facilitators will rotate in alphabetical order.”
Conflict resolution process — “We agree that when conflict occurs, a special session will be held, and we will request help if needed to resolve the issues.”
Accountability — “We agree that each team member is fully accountable for all decisions made.”
Mutual respect — “We agree to respect others’ opinions and ideas.”

Your teams will be more productive and have fewer conflicts if you take time up front to establish a clear direction. By setting goals, deciding on your team norms, and identifying and removing obstacles, your teams will be on a path to success.



Barbara Mitchell is a long time colleague and friend of 30 years. I have worked with her and read her books, which are helpful to anyone managing and leading others. Have a great Journey!



“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”

~Wayne Gretzky

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