With modern organizations moving away from the traditional hierarchical structure to embracing more project-based operations, working in teams is no longer an alternative choice for employees, but an essential consideration to ensure successful business outcomes. In this article, we’ll look at the five key components that affect team effectiveness, and what types of people you need to bring on board your team.

Think about the permanent and function-based teams in your company (for example, HR, sales, operations, marketing, warehousing and finance), as well as temporary teams formed for specific tasks or projects. What is your overall experience working in a team environment? Who have been brought on board to enhance your team? What factors do you consider as critical for a winning team? How do you handle the dynamics associated with teamwork? How do you evaluate the performance of the teams you have worked with? These questions are important to consider as work teams become prevalent in today’s workplace.

In Optimizing Human Capital Development: A Distributor’s Guide to Building a Sustainable Competitive Advantage through Talent Strategy, my coauthors and I highlight five key components that affect your team’s effectiveness:

  1. Goal clarity. Are your team’s goals clear? How well does each member understand the team goals and their significance? How well do your team members understand the expectations placed upon them toward achieving the goals?
  2. Task structure. How is your team’s work designed and divided among the different members? To what degree are team tasks structured to promote effective interaction among different members? How much autonomy does each team member have over the assigned task?
  3. Group composition. Who are the members of your team, in terms of age, education, gender, experience, knowledge, skills and abilities?
  4. Team functioning. How well do your team members communicate with each other? What is the overall effectiveness of the interpersonal relationships among your team members? What holds the team together?
  5. Performance norms. What are your team members’ beliefs about (a) how the teamwork should be performed and (b) what constitutes acceptable performance? How is each team member held accountable for his or her assigned tasks? What are the rewards or consequences for performance outcomes?

Research shows that having an all-star team does not guarantee project success. To succeed, you need to bring three types of people on board:

  1. You need people who are comfortable with uncertainty. This type of individual will remain curious and focused even when the project is far from the end goal.
  2. You need people who can create structure within chaos and take action. Individuals with this ability will drive a team forward even when circumstances change.
  3. You need people who have a combination of three capabilities: divergent thinking (the ability to connect seemingly unrelated information and ideas); convergent action (the ability to execute on ideas and create something tangible); and influential communication (the ability to share knowledge in a coherent, compelling way). Many people are capable in one or two areas, but to create a winning project, you need a team of members who possess all of these competencies.

Now that you know the key ingredients of a winning team, be intentional with whom to bring on board if you are a supervisor or manager. And, if you’re an individual employee who is a member of a team, make a consistent effort to improve your teamwork abilities. The benefits of doing so will be many, such as enhanced team performance, more team cohesiveness and increased work satisfaction.

George Pattee, Chairman of the Board at Parksite Inc., said:

“This is the best book I’ve ever read on human capital strategy, and it’s customized to the distribution industry! Love the process map and explanation as well as the specificity of the action plans. All people managers, the HR staff and senior executives need to read this book.”