Capitalize on team strengths –

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Every piece is important

One tiny lizard in the vastness of nature – and yet an integral part. Being part of a team is like this. Every member of the team is important, each with unique skills and abilities.  How can we best capitalize on team strengths?

Think about team that you’ve been a part of. Was there a role you considered less important than others? Imagine for a moment that no one showed up to fulfill that role one day. Would the team be able to function as effectively? On one team you may have a person that has outlandish ideas, one who asks dozens of questions, one who creates a safe environment, one who takes care of all the logistics, one who energizes the group, and one who moves them to action – all work together to make the group highly effective at achieving its goals.

One of the keys to developing a high-achieving team is to learn the strengths of each team member and then find ways to maximize use of those strengths. Doing so benefits both the team as a whole and the individual members, as they have opportunities to further develop their strengths through team efforts.

This goes a long way toward increasing engagement as well. How do you feel when you are working in your areas of strength? Productive? Capable? Confident? Energetic? Focused? Successful? A higher level of engagement means more satisfying work for you and typically a higher level of effort toward achieving team goals. A win for everyone.

Imagine what it’s like to work with a team where everyone has that level of engagement. What kind of highly-effective team experiences have you had?

 

Developing Strong Virtual Teams

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How do you develop a sense of team when members are spread out geographically?  For many groups the opportunities to get  together in the same physical location are rare. But do you have to

Developing virtual teamsaccept having a disconnected team, just because everyone doesn’t come to work in the same location every day?  People often tell me how difficult it is to build relationships in that kind of situation.  I’ve experienced it myself, and I agree – it can be difficult.  But fortunately it’s not impossible.  I’ve also experienced what it’s like to be part of a strong virtual team, where no goal seemed out of reach. What made the difference?  Just like any relationship, intentional effort needs to be made to create and maintain bonds among team members.

If your virtual team is not performing as well as you’d like or you think that the interpersonal bonds between members could be stronger, consider these questions:  Do you find that when your group does get together for a meeting, much of the time is spent on activities like reviewing reports and scheduling future meetings?  Are these things that really need to be done in a face-to-face setting?  Would a conference call work for some things like these instead?  Are all team members valued for the unique qualities and strengths they bring to the team?

Here are four ways you can build a stronger team.  These apply regardless of your work setting, and are especially applicable in a virtual environment:

1. Make the most of the times you are physically together in the same location to foster trusting relationships among team members.

2.  Incorporate focused and purposeful team development activities into your event to accelerate the group-formation process.

3.  Carefully consider the content of your face-to-face meetings.  What can team members do independently ahead of time? Are there reports that can be read, scheduling that can be planned, or questions that can be shared with the group ahead of time?  If so, then the face-to-face meeting time can be devoted to those areas that address more sensitive topics, or require more in-depth discussion or brainstorming.

4. Create an inclusive environment.  Ensure that everyone has an opportunity to contribute and be heard.  Allowing everyone to be involved not only helps the team achieve its goals by leveraging each person’s strengths, it also demonstrates that each member is a valued part of the team.

What would you add to this list?  What has worked for you?