When you ask someone to list the characteristics of an effective team, most will come up with a fairly standarized list. An effective team has a mission and vision, values and norms, complementary roles and skills sets, and a way to resolve conflicts. Team members communicate well, embrace diversity, accept change, hold themselves accountable, and celebrate success together. So far so good. But now ask someone to describe the best team they’ve ever been on. I do this frequently, and the answer I usually get includes something beyond the standard list of team characteristics, and something harder to put a finger on.
A great team has resonance: a sense of belonging, cohesiveness and pride about the team. A team that resonates practically vibrates with positive energy. Members of a resonant team usually think of their membership on the team as part of their indentity.
I’ve had the privilege to be on such a team a couple of times, and some of my best memories come from those experiences. The two things that were common to the two teams I’m thinking of were:
1. We were incredibly proud of what the team was trying to accomplish.
2. We liked each other, felt connected to each other and enjoyed spending time together, both in and out of work.
The result of having these two things was that I was passionately engaged in the work we were doing. I still remember that feeling of excitement and self-worth whenever my teammates and I got together for a planning session or even just an after-work happy hour chat.
As a team leader, you can make sure the vision and mission are clear and that team members understand their importance and how they contribute in a larger context. That will go a long way toward creating a sense of pride. You can’t make team members like each other, but you can make sure that they have the ability to get to know each other, and that will go a long way too. Teammates who take time to understand each other’s differing work habits, communication styles, hobbies, histories and personal values tend to give each other the benefit of the doubt more often.
Simple as these things are, sometimes they are the most valuable outcomes of a teambuilding retreat: time to get to know each other, and a focus on creating clarity and pride around the team’s mission. In these lean times, you don’t need a ropes course, an expensive program or a fleet of consultants to do those two simple things. You just need to block out some time for the team, away from your operation.
What other best practices have you seen for helping a team to create a sense of resonance?