Built for Success: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teams

Companies use the word “grow” every day. How do you grow your market share, revenue, client base, or brand awareness? How can you seize that opportunity or overcome that problem? The problem is you’re asking the wrong question. It doesn’t start with how you do it, but who can do it. All business growth is propelled by your employees and how they work together as a team. Their skills and attitudes define your culture and ultimately your capacity for growth. If you want to do great things, you need people who can bring out the best in themselves and others. Here are the 7 habits of teams who always go for gold – and get it.

Habit 1: Adapts to Change

Companies don’t fail because of changes in their environment; they fail because their people are unable or unwilling to deal with the change. It’s a lot like steering a ship through turbulent waters. While the company “captains” can chart a new course, the crew needs to capably execute new orders, and keep going in a storm. Does your team resist change and insist on sticking to an obsolete map? Or do they panic and start rowing in different directions  -- losing focus, structure, and operational efficiency?

“What is important in today’s business age are two things: adapting to change, and adapting to change as a team,” says Jeff Boss, author of Navigating Chaos: How To Find Certainty in Uncertain Situations. Your people should know how to manage the impact of organizational and industry uncertainty within themselves before they can make any difference at all within your industry.

Habit 2: Communicates Effectively

Ironically, even if it’s easier to contact people  – meetings, email, group chat apps, mobile phone --  information overload has actually made it harder to communicate with them. Everybody knows the agony of wading through email threads, sitting through pointless meetings, and going in circles because of confusing directions or ambiguous processes.

Good communication – saying things in a clear way at the right time -- leads to action and results. Bad communication causes mistakes and delays that affect both performance and profit. According to The Holmes Report, miscommunication can lead to an average revenue loss of $62.4 million per company and a cumulative annual productivity loss of $26,041 per worker.  

Habit 3: Takes Initiative

John Maxwell said that leadership is not a position, it is about influence or the power to change or change something within one’s sphere.  Regardless of your title on your calling card, you have command responsibility for what’s assigned to you. You take pride in your role and your skills and know that if you don’t deliver you are letting your team down.

So if a team “wins” it’s not because of a star player; it’s because everybody brought in their A game. Develop this attitude in your employees, and then build a team where everyone helps bring out the best in each other.  “The role of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers,” said Ralph Nader.

Habit 4: Innovates and Learns

Kodak. Toys R Us. Compaq. 88% of the Fortune 500 firms in 1955 have either gone bankrupt, merged or lost their share to newer players. Despite having more employees, resources and (at that time) brand recognition, their inability to innovate made them irrelevant.

“Business is a moving escalator. The world is moving around you - customer expectations are changing, competitors are always catching up and threatening to take away your business," said Jackie Fenn, a specialist in innovation at research consultancy Gartner.

Winning teams don’t just meet today’s deadlines, but look at tomorrow’s opportunities. They are able to reframe a problem and look for better solutions. They encourage team members to share ideas, try new approaches, and take risks.

Habit 5: Makes an Organizational Impact

In their book, X Teams, management experts, Deborah Ancona and Henrik Bresman, said it was dangerous for teams to just focus on internal factors (such as communication, well-being, and camaraderie) and overlook how to work with external influences.  You need to be able to make an impact within the company and industry. The book outlines three important “phases” that the team goes through: explore (or understanding the stakeholder), exploit (move from ideas and opportunities to implementation) and export (handover work to clients, marketplace or organization).

Habit 6: Creates a Culture of Support and Safety

One of the most popular team building games is the “Trust Fall” – you stand with your back to your partner, fold your arms and close your eyes, and then lean back. Your first instinct is to jerk back once you start to lose your balance, but this exercise forces you to completely let go and trust that somebody will catch you.

Every working day, team members take the “Trust Fall”. When they share ideas at a meeting, voice disagreement or ask for feedback, or unload about how stressed they’re feeling during lunch break, they are taking emotional and professional risks.

Some teams may feel supportive but not feel safe – for example, everyone gets along on the surface, but there’s a lot of passive-aggressive behavior, hidden politics, and fear of rocking the boat.

But teams need to be safe to succeed. A Google study on The Five Keys of Successful Teams found that people in teams that had this culture of trust were less likely to quit, more likely to harness the benefits of diverse ideas, more likely to bring in revenue, and had double the performance ratings.

It makes perfect sense: if you feel that even if you disagree with each other, you’re still always on the same side, then it’s easier to contribute, communicate, create, and resolve conflict.

Habit 7: Manages Tasks Well

They say that talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships. The best teams are able to consistently meet their targets because they know how to coordinate their efforts and manage their timelines. They may make mistakes and encounter delays, but they’re able to regroup and regain lost ground.

Teams can pick from a plethora of task and project management programs, but these can only provide a process and report the progress. Success still depends on how well teams plan, troubleshoot, and align their efforts. All too often, companies invest in the software and not in the people. What is the real reason a team consistently fails to meet deadlines or targets? Do they need help in goal setting, time management, problem-solving? Do they lack resources or communication? Task management involves several skills and factors – once teams know and change what holds them back, they can become more efficient and productive.

Building a winning team with Grow

Do your teams have these characteristics? Use Grow for Teams to perform better and become more effective, engaged and committed. A subscription gives teams access to a guided digital program that allows them to work on their leadership skills -- both individually and collectively. It:

  • enables individuals and teams to be more aware of their areas of strength and opportunity
  • equips individuals and teams to create development plans
  • keeps track of improvement
  • provides a space for team members to connect and engage with each other

Building a winning team doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice and commitment to continuously grow and develop. Grow partners with teams so that they have access to a robust, tested and effective guided digital program that allows them to work on leadership skills both from individual and collective levels. This ensures holistic improvement and more consistent results.

So where do teams jumpstart their journey to building a winning team? Where does your team begin, and how? It’s important to first understand how you work as a team and determine if the work you’re doing is getting you the desired results. Take Grow’s Team Snapshot to find out more.