Team Culture – Ten Traits of a Highly Productive Team

Have you ever been part of a productive team? Do you remember what that felt like?
Have you ever been part of an unproductive team? Do you remember what that felt like?

Team culture plays a large role in job satisfaction and productivity so it’s essential that when we are leading teams we consider the elements that make a highly productive team; not only for the outcomes of the business but to retain our skilled employees through job satisfaction.

Ten traits of a highly productive team

Ownership – passing the buck and placing blame on others is ineffective and creates a negative environment within a team. Taking ownership of the task through to completion builds trust within the team and creates a clear end goal for team members. Of course, the leader of the team has overall ownership of the teams tasks so has a clear role to play in assigning tasks; I have written a separate article about leadership here.

Initiative – team members bringing their initiative to the table is a welcome trait. Those who work on their own initiative are likely to complete their tasks more efficiently due to requiring less support during the course of the tasks. Of course; that’s not to be confused with working in isolation which is to carry on regardless without any input or support from the team because the team member has their own view on how the tasks should be completed. Using ones own initiative and working in isolation are different things.

Mastermind – as Napoleon Hill states; the power of the mastermind is the driving force behind all achievement. That is; a driving force of a team full of ideas and collaboration is stronger than an individuals lone ideas. Therefore; every team members’ ideas, suggestions, challenges and solutions are valid; regardless of their position. Again, it is the leaders responsibility to create the setting for the mastermind to be relevant and effective “ten minds are better than one when working together in harmony”. I have worked in teams that weren’t even within my department; but the leader of the project felt that my skills and ideas would benefit their project so I was invited to attend the project team meetings. This was a great learning experience for me and from that moment onwards I sought out team members from varying departments that had skills and ideas to attend project team meetings which helped the team to challenge the status quo and bring a different perspective to the challenges we faced.

Trust – one of the killers of a productive team is lack of trust and respect for each other. Underlying personal or professional grudges create false realities and cause friction within a team. Regular team building and dealing with issues quickly can help build trust and respect within the team. The leader has a large role to play in setting the scene for rapid issue resolution and team building to occur.

Goals – teams can not be productive without each member understanding what they are working towards. Have you ever been in a job where you felt like you were “just doing a job” because it wasn’t clear how your role fits into the organisations purpose? I have and it’s damaging to your confidence as well as your positivity which is a dangerous mix for a productive team. Most people want to feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves and when you spend so many hours of your life at work we, as leaders, can not allow team members to feel that their role isn’t contributing to the bigger picture. Goals. Important. ☺️

Development – lack of developing the team members skills is one of the biggest reasons organisations lose talented and skilled staff. Most people want to feel like they are moving forward in their careers, it’s a mark of respect from the organisation to the employee when they invest in the employee. This creates a positive and productive employee who in returns respects their employer and remains an effective contributing team member.

Positivity – it’s hard to remain positive if many of the other items listed above have not been achieved. Forced positivity is a false economy. Positivity must be genuine and can only be achieved through a positive work environment. Employee surveys can help us understand where areas of concern lie and better understanding our employees on an emotional level. Our team members are humans not numbers and it’s important we respect each other’s differing personalities.

Kept in the loop – I have worked for organisations that have done this really well and ones that haven’t. The ones that did this well-earned respect from the team even during some very challenging times. The organisations that didn’t do this well created an environment of distrust, negativity and speculation which ultimately damages the reputation of both the organisation and the team members. Secrecy is never a good trait for an organisation to have. Confidentiality and strategic communications are important when dealing with sensitive issues; but secrecy; that is when one person in the team is up to speed but not the others; begins a downward spiral towards distrust, speculation and environment where hearsay confuses reality. No matter how large the project or how sensitive the content of the project it is essential that an effective communications plan is devised from the outset to ensure the team is appropriately ‘kept in the loop’. I am a huge advocate for updating my teams on performance; because if we do not then how do they know where they are, where they need to be and how, we as a team, are going to work together to get there. After quizzing a senior manager  once about a missing pathway in the organisations strategy I was asked “does it matter? do the team members really care about the strategic direction?” my answer is “yes, yes they do, they just don’t know it as “strategic direction” they know it is their “action plans” and without this pathway how can they possibly understand how their  day-to-day tasks make a difference to the organisation?” Never underestimate the importance of being kept in the loop.

Feedback – two-way feedback is an essential component to working within a productive team. The reason we say two-way is the feedback should not always come from the leader or project manager. I have seen business owners meet with their teams and present an idea they have to the team and tell the team how much they like their own idea. The business owner would then ask their team members what they think. Now how many of them would have been brave enough to state they didn’t like the idea that their manager has just presented to them??? Not many. Therefore, it is essential that out personal opinions are kept to one side until everyone has had the opportunity to feedback. Again, the project manager or team leader should create the environment for feedback to occur without prejudice. I admit, I have been guilty in the past of being super-excited about an idea and have been really keen to share it with the team and then disappointed when the team weren’t quite as excited as me; but this is a process and the feedback from the other team members gave me the insight to understand the challenges my idea presented allowing us to consider alternative options and solutions.

Approachable – as mentioned earlier, we are all human. We can not switch this off simply because we may work in a corporate environment. We need to be more aware of human behaviour. Emotional intelligence is a great skill to have. It does not mean you are a weak manager or team member; the opposite in fact. It means we can adapt our language, tone and presentation of information dependent on the personality type of the team. Therefore, being approachable is vital to a productive team. Team members simply won’t engage well with unapproachable people which results in project delays and mis-communication.

So now we have looked at some traits that result in a highly productive team it is worth considering how we go about achieving those traits. There are some ideas listed in the content above; but by all means, drop me a message or give me a call if you need to brainstorm some ideas or chat about specific issues your team may be facing and we can work through it together.

Until Next Time


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