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How to Build an Effective Team

How to build an effective team

It takes very little effort to set up a team or to give a group of individuals a team name of some kind. However, this would be a very minor step in building any kind of teamwork between the individuals. This takes not only much greater time and effort but needs a development process to be drawn upon so that the journey from formation to high performance can be as fast and as smooth as possible. In fact, it can be compellingly argued that the organization which builds its teams in the most efficient and effective way, on an on-going basis, are the ones that are most likely to be successful in the market place in then medium to long term. It therefore becomes critical that every individual has some grasp of what good team building behavior looks like in practice and can subsequently play his or her part to help evolve a high performing team outcome. In this way, the team can actually achieve more than the sum of all of the individuals that make up the team, whether it’s a team of 3 or 30 people.

Bruce Tuckman stages of team development

Many years ago, Bruce Tuckman developed a simple system for team growth or progression which stated that teams evolved through four stages. These are forming, storming, norming and performing. Tuckman suggested that many teams never reached the last phase, performing, and this was mainly the case because they never fully appreciated their collective contribution to organizational results or outcomes. We would suggest that this outcomes focus has three parts to it, so let’s look briefly at each of these.

Firstly, a team needs to have collective goals to achieve as a group (and not just a set of individual goals). This helps to build a cohesive group of people and to bring about much greater levels of collaboration. This is because team goals can only typically be achieved by two, three or more individuals helping each other out. One way in which this is often done well is by setting project goals or targets and then getting groups of people to work out who will be responsible for particular parts of a given project.

Secondly, a team starts to develop an “outcomes focus” by strengthening its relationships with other teams in the organization.  This includes both supplier teams that provide “up-stream” input and information and customer teams that are given outputs or data in order to do their job.  In other words, the individuals start to look beyond the boundaries of their own team and start to see how the transition or hand-off can be better managed with other teams in the overall value chain.

Thirdly, an outcome-focused team will become increasingly adept at learning from its mistakes, usually by making changes to ensure they are not repeated.  This sounds simple enough, but in practice it takes great maturity, good organization, and excellent follow-through capability.

Being part of a high-performing team is an exhilarating experience – we hope this brief article has given you a few insights on how you might get there and how you can sustain the performance once it has been achieved.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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