10 Steps to Create Winning Teams

     10 Steps to Create Winning Teams
Out of Ordinary, Self-Centered Individuals

ABSTRACT: In any business, Prosperity and Success results from Teamwork and Synergy. Often, we come across a set of brilliant individuals and wish that we could make them work together for the greater good of the entire organization. Here are the ingredients of the gel that bring self-centered Individuals together to form Winning Teams.

1. Foster harmony & trust (belong)

For individuals to work as a team, there should be an environment of trust and harmony. Individuals should feel that we would treat them with fairness and care. They must trust each other and their manager to make decisions that will benefit them. A good manager can bring diverse individuals together and within a few days get them working together with mutual respect, trust, and love.

For a few ideas on how to achieve this, read “Project Serenity – How to gain happiness and peace“. In this book, Michelle is a manager who diffuses trust and peace among her team members.

2. Identify common purpose (bond)

Team members and Management should have clarity on the common purpose of the project and the reason why the individuals are being brought together. Here we should not stop with identifying the goal of the project. We should arrive at the importance of the project to the business goals of the organization.

What is the purpose of this individual project? What effect does success/failure have for the customer, for our organization, for the individuals in the team? How does this project fit into the big picture of the mission, vision of the organization?

3. Plan, monitor & track the activities (plan)

Each project has certain activities that must be finished within a schedule. These should be planned well. Discuss with the team the estimated effort for each activity and ensure that the person assigned the activity is committed to completing it as well within the schedule. We should take care of Risk Management with preventive and contingency plans.

As a manager, think of the performance management of each individual and throw in some buffer when the going is complex. Communicate the plan to your Management and to the customer and get the support from all the stakeholders. Well begun is half done.

The other half is the tough part: monitor and track the activities of the project, re-plan and re-schedule whenever necessary. When schedule pressure tries to squeeze the sense
and fun out of the team’s lives, be sure to be around with a helping hand and lots of understanding care and sympathy.

Tempers may flare, and poor decisions may be made on the pressure of the moment. Be always aware and alert to what is going on. Stimulate corrective action through group discussions, mentoring, and counseling.

4. Assign clear responsibilities (roles)

A clear definition of what is expected of each individual in the team. What are the roles that this team needs to have and who will perform the various functions of each role? This has to be clear and well defined. Once this is done each one knows what he should contribute towards the success of the team.

5. Delegate decision-making (delegate)

With the plan and roles clear, the team just has to get on with the act. As the project progresses, there will be multiple places where they have to decide on how to proceed, how to handle unexpected contingencies. Give them the freedom to decide about the technical and customer-service related aspects of the project.

They should consult or discuss things with you, but as a manager, the best help you can give them is to ask questions and lead them to arrive at the answer and solution themselves. Encourage them to make team decisions and then keep them.

6. Improve the individuals (self)

Throughout our school and college days, we have been taught to be aggressive and plan for our advancement and progress as individuals. The industry expects us to work in teams, but our inner self always asks, “What’s in it for me?”

As a manager, we should ensure that every individual grows and acquires new skills and new technical expertise and exposure. This new learning should be consciously planned as a by-product of the project activities. This happiness at learning and growing will encourage the individuals to give their best to the project activities.

7. Hold regular meetings & outings (communicate)

Lack of proper communication is quoted as the major reason for project and business failures. Creating an excellent workable plan is just half the story: keeping the entire team aware of the twists and turns in the project is the other half. Having delegated decision-making to the individuals, you as a manager should now provide them the mechanisms to discuss their problems, consult with the rest of the team, and arrive at consensus decisions.

For this, we require regular meetings & discussions. There is a world outside of the project also: therefore, the team members should be encouraged to go for picnics and outings together. Do include the support staff in these outings, since that is the next point for a winning team.

8. Ensure support from others (external)

For a project to be successful in an organization, there are external and team members, whose help and support is required at the right times. For projects, infrastructure like machines, equipment, and software is provided, installed, and maintained by the Systems Administration Group. Marketing and Engineering teams should work together to ensure Customer Satisfaction and Delight. Then we may need external peers to review our work products. Thus, we need the support of our projects’ internal and external customers.

Internal customers are the top Management with whom we have a give and take relationship: we give them successful projects and they give us the resources to succeed. An external customer is a client or an actual customer for whom the software is being created. The project manager must guide the team members to maintain good healthy relationships with these agencies external to the team.

9. Have escalation points (back-up strategy)

Murphy’s Law states: If anything can go wrong, it will. We made contingency plans as part of the planning process. Now we need to create escape routes through which we can salvage the project when disaster strikes.

Who are the people whom we can contact to take the tough decisions like how much of the project and customer relationship we should salvage when the going gets disastrous? In the normal course, we may not need to request the help of our escalation points, but identify them upfront before the emergency situations arise.

10. Give Rewards, awards, and promotions (encourage)

The best way to encourage and create winning teams is to have rewards, awards, and promotions that emphasize the importance of teamwork. Define the criteria for winning teams and then select the best team of the organization periodically and give each individual in the team an award. Only what we recognize and praise exists and flourishes. By encouraging good teamwork, you encourage the formation of winning teams.

Follow these 10 Tips to turn any set of individuals into a winning team: whether it is in a sports team or a business project team. In today’s world, the ability to make winning teams and throw in the gel of teamwork into a group of individuals is a much-needed skill.

Keep in mind the above 10 steps each of which helps in creating and keeping a winning team together.

Ten Teamwork Quotes
1. What do you really believe makes a difference in the company? For me, it’s really clear. It’s about customers and employees. Everything else follows. If you take care of your customers and you have motivated employees, everything else follows. ~ Anne Mulcahy, CEO Xerox Corp.
2. The nice thing about teamwork is that you always have others on your side. ~ Margaret Carty.
3. Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success. ~ Henry Ford.
4. Most teams aren’t teams at all, but merely collections of individual relationships with the boss. Each individual vying with others for power, prestige, and position. ~ Douglas Murray McGregor.
5. We have always found that people are most productive in small teams with tight budgets, timelines, and the freedom to solve their own problems. ~ John Rollwagen.
6. When your team is winning, be ready to be tough, because winning can make you soft. On the other hand, when your team is losing, stick by them. Keep believing. ~ Bo Schembechler.
7. The key elements in the art of working together are how to deal with change, how to deal with conflict, and how to reach our potential … the needs of the team are best met when we meet the needs of individual persons. ~ Max DePree.
8. Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. ~ Anonymous.
9. None of us is as smart as all of us. ~ Ken Blanchard.
10. The strength of the team is each individual member … the strength of each member is the team. ~ Coach Phil Jackson

Related Reading
a. Naseem Mariam, eBook “Project Serenity: How to gain happiness and peace”
b. Naseem Mariam, “Top 10 Qualities of a Great Leader
c. Naseem Mariam, “10 Traits of a Good Team Member
d. Naseem Mariam, “How to Align Your Goals for Success”
e. Naseem Mariam, “Nested Plans: 6 levels of Planning

About the Author: Dr. Naseem Mariam Ph.D. (Acu) heals people using Alternative therapies for over 10 years. Earlier, she has worked for 24 years as a Senior Software Manager in Wipro and Aricent Technologies in the design and testing of applications and systems, managing large projects for customers worldwide.  During 2001 – 2003, she wrote many articles on self-development, personal health, project management, and customer satisfaction. Revisiting that treasure trove and republishing those articles. She has authored an ebook called “Project Serenity: How to gain happiness and peace” and 3 books on Lifestyle and Wellness: “Serene Wellness: Daily Practise in 7 Areas”, “Belly Loss Blueprint: Come N.E.A.R. Vibrant Health” with its companion “Belly Loss Habits: Workbook to Vibrant Health”.