8 Key Characteristics of Effective Teams

You can probably think of teams that you have been involved in that were highly effective.  In those teams there were likely to be certain characteristics that those teams had.  So what characteristics would they have?


1.                Care for each other


The teams that are most effective care about each other.  They have a genuine interest in each other and their success and fulfilment.  Think about times when things were going really well in a group.  More than likely one of the most powerful things that was pulling the team together was genuine interest in each other.


 2.                Open and truthful


Openness and truthfulness is the second key characteristic of effective teams.  When teams are open and truthful, they step forward, say things that need to be said, all in the interest of helping the team to get results.


3.                High levels of trust


Teams that are looking over their shoulder all of the time, who worry about what is being said in smaller groups, who don’t believe they can rely on others and are looking to points score will not create high levels of trust.  If there are low levels of trust, it is extremely difficult to excel as a team.  Why?  You don’t have a team, just a group of individuals who are thrown together to achieve something.


4.                Consensus decisions


If you are someone who looks at decisions through a lens of getting what you want and this is replicated across a team, how effective do you think that team would be?  Consensus decision making is not about avoid taking decisions or watering down decisions.  It is about looking for the best win-win outcome for the team.


5.                Commitment


The teams that are effective are committed to getting the results they desire.  They know where they are heading, are highly motivated and persistent even when setbacks arise.  Commitment in many ways is about doing what it takes to get the result you want.  Think of a team that achieved results and ask yourself what qualities they drew on to get the great results they got.


6.                Address conflict


Sometimes people wrongly believe that in effective teams there is no conflict.  The difference between those teams that excel and those that struggle is that conflict is addressed.  Rather than seeing it as something negative, teams recognise it as healthy and to be worked through in order to get the desired results.


7.                Real listening


Listening is key to effective communication and effective teams know that it is important to really listen and understand.  Real listening is about focusing attention on the communicator rather than your own personal agenda.  Teams who only master this will go a long way to being more effective.


8.                Express feelings


We are often told to keep emotions and feelings out of the work place.  Yet in truth, if teams want to be effective they need to create a safe and courageous space for feelings to be expressed. Think about an investment decision.  Accounting, marketing, operations, production, distribution and human resources will feel differently about the decision.  It is important that these feelings can be expressed without fear or ridicule.


When teams pull together, great things are achieved.


Duncan Brodie is Managing Director of Goals and Achievements and helps organizations and individuals to improve the results they achieve through team working

  • Olu says:

    Thank you Duncan. I found your article on the characteristics of effective team very useful. I’ll apply it to run my organization. Once more, thank you.

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