The Surprising Secret to Building Effective Teams

The Surprising Secret to Building Effective TeamsThere’s one powerful word you’ve got to know if you want to enhance teamwork effectiveness. That word? “Trust.” When the people on your team work within a culture they trust, with people they trust, and with processes and procedures they trust, any goal they set will have a greater chance of being achieved. But what creates this experience of team trust? A Google study on effective teams drills down on the question, uncovering five factors that help. Those include things like psychological safety, dependability, structure and clarity around procedures and processes, a sense of meaning/purpose, and a clear grasp of the impact of goals. Ironically, a lot of leaders mistakenly believe that great teams are primarily about having the right personality fit. Not so. As outlined in MAP’s “Checklist for Effective Teams,” there are a number of very specific, proven elements that build that critical trust, enable greater goal achievement, and contribute to team success overall.

Here are some ways team trust happens:

1. Through an accountability system.

At MAP, leaders learn how to build their teams through an accountability system that’s been used for 50+ years and is proven to get results. Through the MAP Vital Factor Team process, key members meet on a regular basis to assess, evaluate and drive the performance of the organization. Everyone on the team is on a level playing field. Goals are set, tracked and measured in a very clear, consistent and equitable way. It’s a system that comes with clear expectations and is set up to support transparency in regard to people’s activities and performance, both shortcomings and successes relative to their goals.

When people engage and participate fully in this accountability system, they benefit through greater performance, productivity and morale. Working with their teams, they’re also more apt to problem-solve, innovate and turn good organizations into great ones, particularly ones with a purpose and that feel like they matter and have some measurable degree of impact.

2. In a safe work environment.

In terms of “safe,” we don’t just mean trust happens when people have a sense of physical safety (that should be a given) but a safe culture in which people experience psychological safety. In this type of team environment, they feel they can speak their truth and are free to express their feelings and ideas without fear of reprisal or embarrassment.

Teams and those on it also need to know they can make occasional mistakes, learn and grow. When this happens, they aren’t afraid to take risks—and even thrive in risk-taking—always knowing and trusting that they will be supported by their peers and leaders when they do. Safe work environments have policies, procedures and unwritten rules that protect the people both physically, psychologically and even emotionally.

3. With the right people onboard.

While you want people who are top in their field, what’s equally if not more important is that those you hire are dependable, are self-disciplined, and show respect for themselves and others. The right people will bring an attitude of action and momentum to team interactions and goal-achievement, clearly pumping people up and rallying to the goals set. These are those “A” (not “C”) players—or at least the type of team members who want to become “A” players and are willing to do the right things to make sure it happens.

Look at MAP’s Checklist for Effective Teams. What aspect of teamwork do you find the most vital to cultivate and sustain—why?


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