4 Key Components for Building a High-Functioning Team

Good teamwork doesn’t happen on its own. It takes deliberate time and effort.

How good is your team at coming together, working together, sticking together and celebrating together?

At the EA, we’re blessed with an incredible team of dedicated people who work very hard, collaborate and share ideas with each other, positively work through challenges, and celebrate victories.

That’s a relatively short sentence, but there’s a lot of stuff packed into those thirty words. Let’s take a closer look to see what insights can be gleaned from them.

1. Leverage the talents of your team members.

A key to building a successful team is taking some time to recognize the various communication styles, working styles, and talents of your team members, and then aligning those assets with the needs of the team.

For example, if one of the team members has a penchant for graphic design, then turn that person loose on developing the marketing message. Do you have another team member who’s methodical or analytically inclined? That person could be perfect in the role of treasurer or planner. Another person might be good at motivating, listening and distilling information and ideas; perhaps that person could be your team lead.

The point is, aligning responsibilities according to your team members’ talents and skills can go a long way toward strengthening buy-in, commitment, and success. For example, at The EA, when we build a conference, the whole team gets involved. From the early planning stages all the way through the logistics on the day of the event, everyone plays an important part that meshes with their talents and skills. Everyone also knows what parts their other team members are playing, so they know who to contact with any questions, challenges, or needs.

2. The free sharing of ideas can be a powerful thing.

Members of well-performing teams are very good at sharing ideas. Using our previous example of a conference, at the EA, the event team chooses a theme for each of our conferences, and then comes up with ways to carry out the theme. Those theme development meetings are usually some of the best parts of our conference planning process. All ideas are considered, none are initially rejected, and the energy in those meetings is amazing.

The team members know going in that no idea is too far-fetched, and they’re encouraged to let them fly. Over the years, these meetings have resulted in some pretty amazing outcomes.

As a recent example, we were in the midst of planning our 2016 Employment Law Conference, the theme of which was “It’s a Jungle Out There”, when someone said, “We need a monkey!” After the high-fiving settled down a bit, we thought, why not?!

So one of our team members, Judi Roe, made a call to the Toledo Zoo – an EA member – and spoke with our primary contact, Nancy Foley. Nancy immediately got excited and said, “Let me see what I can do.” With Nancy’s help, and the help of her very talented team, we had the privilege of being joined at the conference by a beautifully majestic owl, an incredibly cute miniature porcupine, and a couple of other wonderful animal guests.

3. Let your team do their thing.

I mentioned earlier that one of the best parts of our process is seeing our team members freely sharing their ideas. Another part of the process that’s pretty darn cool is the day of the event when our team is fully engaged, working the plan, and on. They know what to do, they know how their parts fit in and contribute to the plan as a whole, and they work so well together that if an issue crops up, they resolve it promptly and seamlessly, many times so efficiently that I’m not even aware there was a problem. They operate like a well-oiled machine – a talented, hardworking, fun-loving, 14-part machine.

5. Teamwork, done well, takes some effort.

Good teamwork doesn’t happen on its own. It takes deliberate time and effort. With a strong foundation of respect, an ongoing awareness of each individual’s style, talents and skills, a commitment to positive communication, and a focus on a quality outcome, a team can become a high-performing unit that can achieve anything it sets out to accomplish.

Be purposeful in encouraging your people to do what they’re good at, giving them confidence in bringing ideas to the table, giving them freedom to make decisions within their expertise, making them feel valued, and finally, celebrating their success. It will transform your team!

photo credit: Sarah Beddoes, Judi Roe, Nancy Hollister, Paige Gineman

About Terry Vernier

Terry truly enjoys getting to know the EA members as he plans and manages our public seminars and conferences. Outside the office, he likes attending classic car shows, reading, and spending time with his wonderful family and friends. His biggest challenge is not stopping to pet every dog he happens to see.