Building a team
What does it mean to build a team? It goes beyond merely forming a group and getting to know each other’s names – that would just be the first step, of course. But how do you really bring the team together, to cement each person’s identity in the group? Wouldn’t it be enough to play some icebreaker games to introduce each other and call it a day?
In essence, building a team entails having a deep understanding of your team’s dynamic, analysing how to best work together, in a way that utilises and builds upon each individual’s input and skills.
Why is it so important to know how to build your team?
- When you have a good grasp of your members and their individual functions in the group, you are better equipped to figure out the best approach to encourage them to collaborate with one another.
- Laying the foundation for a deeper understanding amongst the team members would allow the others to better appreciate each other’s contributions to the team, and be more likely to have compassion and be less defensive when disagreements arise.
- They would therefore be more willing to actively participate and cooperate with a shared goal in mind.
This way, through the heightened commitment to achieve goals, and the increased competency to handle conflicts, you are able to achieve the optimal conditions for your team to come together. So while icebreaker games are fun and an easy way to get to know your group, it is by far not enough to truly comprehend and recognise their abilities and potential.
How can we build a team?
- Make sure members feel secure enough to be themselves
Your group mates should feel respected that they are capable of contributing their best work. This removes any barriers holding them back from performing at their full capacity. There exist team building theories that shed light about the psychological mechanisms behind creating a well-balanced, highly effective team.
There are different type of Psychological safety.
2. Build a strong and inclusive shared identity
Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory proposes that having a strong sense of membership in a group is actually able to boost your teammates’ self-esteem and sense of social identity. The very idea of group membership cultivates the concept that people can be categorised as part of the in-group or out-group. If you as a leader are able to develop a strong and inclusive group identity that your members can accept and relate to, then being a part of the group therefore fosters a fulfilling sense of belonging and further reinforces their place in the group.
- Always remain aware of the group’s dynamics
Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development speaks about the idea that teams typically progress through a four-stage cycle in the course of their work. These stages are able to provide insight as to how people from differing backgrounds with seemingly diverse perspectives and worldviews are able to work as a unified team.
Facilitators are encouraged to use this theory as a guideline to recognise what stage their group is in, and thereafter decide the most appropriate course of action to take to effectively utilise the team’s abilities. The stages are as follows:
The initial stage, when the group members are first introduced to each other. At this point, they are probably hesitant about what their roles and responsibilities are. The group’s task and goals have yet to be clearly established.
Members begin testing out their dynamic as a team. They explore the boundaries of their role and voice their perspectives, at the same time analyse others’. Opposing viewpoints and disagreements can arise.
As familiarity grows, the members start building a sense of trust and loyalty towards each other and their leader. They feel more comfortable in their roles and seek to cooperate with one another.
Members are now able to work together seamlessly and efficiently to achieve their common objectives. Everyone is secure and confident in their roles, the goals of the group have been clearly outlined, and the leader of the group is able to effectively guide and facilitate the discussion while encouraging the participation of their teammates.
All of the above are great tips on how to build a more harmonious sense of ‘team’. But perhaps the most important of all is this:
4. Focus on your members’ strengths.
It is crucial to recognise that everyone has their own distinct strengths that are valuable for the team, and that can be collectively harnessed to help the group reach their common goal. Therefore as a leader, you should take the time and effort to assess how each person can bring their unique perspective and skillset on board to further the team’s progress.
People like to feel needed and heard, thus it is also important as the facilitator to make sure your members feel like their opinions are taken into consideration; that their efforts and contributions do carry weight and constructively impact the group’s performance.
Exercise your competency as the facilitator to establish balance in the group and set the stage for expectations, such as giving everyone an equal opportunity to participate. Once you’ve read our article on how to hone your facilitation skills, one of YOUR strengths now is your ability to drive the discussion and guide your team to stay on task, all while navigating conflicts in a way that make your members feel respected and valued as part of the group. Good on you!