Working in teams is more critical than ever because millennials that are flooding the workplace work best in a team environment. There are five essential ingredients that must be in place for a team to be effective. When teams go awry we tend to look on the surface for the problem or blame individuals. But the source of the breakdown always lies in one or more of these underlying principles. The only way to get the team back on track is to stop and analyze which one (or more) of these five components needs a tune-up.

1) Belonging: Each team must first create a strong sense of community, one that is worth belonging to. We need to feel the team offers a place where there is cooperation and collaboration around common goals. Our participation on teams fulfills our need to fit in, to have a place at the table and to be a part of something bigger. When there is a breakdown on a team, this sense of belonging is most often the component that is not working.

2) Purpose: Functioning teams always have specific goals and objectives. They are spelled out clearly and agreement is created on the direction to be taken to accomplish the goals and overall mission. If every team member is not rowing in the same direction, it’s difficult to arrive at the same destination on time.

3) Competence: A team must have players who collectively possess all the skills necessary to accomplish its mission and goals. In particular, the team leader must be competent. One way this is demonstrated is in the selection of team members. It is the job of the leader to ensure that the team has all the tools in its toolbox. Once the team skills are in place, team confidence soars because of the sense of what I call the “we got this”. And when teams are confident they are productive and creative.

4) Significance: A team must know that their mission and work is important. That, in a sense, they are not just wasting their time. This is the only way to create phenomenal results. Team members should get that what they are doing is advantageous to the larger organization or to the people they serve. At a minimum, they need to know that the significance of their contributions to the organization is worth their effort.

5) Models: Every effective team has among themselves healthy models to emulate. One person may be the model of positive attitude, another, the model of attention to detail. Each player has specific strengths from which other members can learn. They are respected by team members because they embody the ideal behavior and way of being in a particular area. Powerful models are a must in a fully functional and healthy team.

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