It has never felt more relevant for me to write down how I feel a team foundation should be built and maintained to achieve success. I've had a privilege to be part of some fantastic teams from sports, friendships, RAF, family and business. Below are a few bullet points with these thoughts, in no particular order. 

  • Values - have values. These can be used to ensure everyone is accountable at any point and make critical conversations easier. Some values I have used before include 'psychological safety', 'transparency', 'greater than the sum the parts'. Another tip here is to frequently check-in on your team and ask where they are seeing these being demonstrated.

  • Have a purpose at every level - from interview stage to motivating your team in the long term it is crucial that not only have you communicated the organisation's purpose with your people but you have understood the purpose of each individual and where any gaps potentially lie. This will help you attract and retain the right people. Be prepared to also help your people find their purpose.

  • Wellbeing - put your team's wellbeing at the heart of everything you do. You will thank yourself for this in the long term.

  • Mission - making decisions that are aligned to your mission will lead you to the right destination.

  • A learning culture - create a learning environment at all levels of the organisation as this will ensure people keep getting better and improving. Mastery is something that motivates an individual so whilst getting people to constantly improve will help your share value (or other metric of success) it will also keep your team motivated.

  • Team paths - where are your people headed? Do they know? An uncertain future is detrimental to the productivity and wellbeing of any individual. Building a path for each individual and aligning their role against it is a great way to keep people motivated and engaged.

  • Never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself - I am certainly not going to claim I can execute on this against a team of software engineers but that is why you have management who can. Or at least demonstrate that you have gone to the same place that you will require them to go. I've always used Michael Jordan as a good example of someone who did this well.

  •  Accept when you are wrong and say sorry - I believe owning up to a mistake and accepting the consequences sets the right standards across a team but it also helps everyone learn, especially the one making the mistake. You really need to have psychological safety at the heart of your organisation to make sure this happens.

  • The standards you walk past are the standards you become - whether this is keeping your working environment in check, being punctual, treating people well or always doing your best. We all know that if standards drop around us it will bring the whole team down over time. Dominoes do a good job of demonstrating this... 

  • Build strong human connections - have an understanding of your people on a personal level. Keeping a relationship with each individual will make them want to be part of the collective team. It will give you a nuanced understanding of how/ where to intervene with each individual to help them develop and perform better. I still love the example of Jurgen Klopp knowing a different handshake for each of his players at Liverpool. You might need a spreadsheet for this. 

  • Keep the team balanced - In the words of Phil Jackson "Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the 'Me' for the 'We'." Your team need to respect each other and their contribution to the team goal. As mentioned above the whole is greater than the sum of its parts - so you need to be ready to take action against team members who disrupt the balance, or facilitate an environment where specific 1-1 relationships can improve.

  • Maintain team unity - be open and honest; ensure you maintain trust by approaching sensitive news which might come as a surprise to your team or otherwise be leaked; address big issues head-on; finally, leverage external negatives to rally and band the team together.

I am sure I have missed plenty of great ideas but these were a few that came to mind when I was having a think this evening. Thoughts welcome! 

Below is a picture of some of the awesome Betterspace team back in April at our flagship event Workforce Wellbeing Live.