How to Build a Successful Team in 8 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated December 5, 2022

Published July 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Knowing how to build a team and accomplish goals requires practice and training. Successful teams are those that can work together toward a common goal. Building a strong team allows you to complete projects more effectively and efficiently. In this article, we discuss the characteristics of a successful team and list eight steps you can take to help you build one.

What are the characteristics of a successful team?

A successful team allows members to contribute their ideas freely and enthusiastically. Teams identify problems and, together, develop solutions for those problems. The members of a well-built team support each other, as well as one another's development. Here are some characteristics of a well-built team:

  • Goal-oriented. The best teams have goals in mind and set detailed plans to accomplish them. To do so, teams implement strategies, track their progress, and use innovative tools to increase productivity and reduce costs.

  • Committed. Another part of building a successful team is finding committed team members to fulfil their roles. Leaders must choose members depending on their expertise and strengths to have the most effective team possible.

  • Teachable. To succeed, team members need to be open to learning and must be willing to change their responsibilities as the project changes. When team members accept challenges as learning experiences, the team may experience growth and success.

  • Diverse. Successful teams will have a diversity of opinions, and effective team leaders remember that team members have their own lived experiences and that each member has unique ideas to contribute. Team members who feel comfortable sharing their unique ideas and innovations may provide better solutions and strategies.

  • Focused on culture. A well-built team has a good company culture and a team leader who can motivate each member. To improve company culture, leaders invest in team-building activities and find commonalities among members.

  • Accountable. When team members work toward a common goal and shared values, they work as a cohesive unit. As such, team members are held to the same standard and demonstrate accountability for their responsibilities.

  • Communicative. A well-built team knows how to communicate efficiently. In doing so, members can express ideas clearly and discuss issues as they arise.

  • Motivating. The key to having a successful team is a leader who knows how to motivate their team and provide them with direction. Leaders of successful teams invest in their members through skills training and team-building activities.

Related: Leading a Team Through a Social Justice Crisis

How to build a successful team

If you're interested in building a successful team, consider following these steps:

1. Set specific goals

A helpful way to set goals when building a team is to use SMART goals. By using this method, teams can successfully track and accomplish their goals. Every team member has the same SMART goals in mind and can track how far they've progressed. Be sure to monitor your team's accomplishments and reward them accordingly. SMART goals allow you to use metrics that track your team's progress, making it easier to acknowledge their achievements. The acronym stands for:

  • Specific: Your team must set specific goals to ensure everyone can work together towards achieving them. Set a clear beginning and end to the goal, with smaller goals and milestones along the way.

  • Measurable: Tracking progress allows teams to work more efficiently. Set goals that are measurable to ensure you can measure progress and know when you've achieved your goals.

  • Achievable: Goals should be achievable. When teams have realistic goals, they may feel more motivated to accomplish them.

  • Relevant: Try to make your goals relevant to your field and current project.

  • Time-based: Setting timelines can help teams track their progress and work more efficiently. With detailed plans, steps and deadlines, teams may collaborate more efficiently to complete tasks on time.

Related: SMART Goals: Objectives for Your Career

An example of a SMART goal is setting a team objective to increase sales by 15% and reach one million dollars in revenue over the next year. This goal is specific because it has a set amount your team can track and measure. It also contains a deadline that's relevant for a sales team. By using a SMART goal, the team could help increase revenue for their company.

Related: 9 Types of Management Styles for Effective Leadership

2. Establish roles and responsibilities

Having specific goals and responsibilities ensures team members know what their role is within the project. Leaders define these qualities by getting to know their team members better. They can take time to get to know their employees and learn about their strengths and weaknesses. This provides leaders with a strategy for assigning both roles and responsibilities. When a team establishes these roles, members can focus on their tasks and have the skills necessary to succeed. Some leaders, for example, assign responsibilities involving technical writing and research to team members who have shown proficiency in these skills.

To increase your team's efficiency, consider assigning responsibilities at the beginning of a new project. When team members understand what their position in the company is and what they're supposed to work on from the beginning of a project, leaders can save time and increase productivity in the long run.

Related: What Are Team Effectiveness Models for Workplaces?

3. Experiment frequently

While embracing the roles you've established, consider experimenting with new ones to increase productivity. You can observe your team to determine which skills employees show particular promise in and which ones they can improve on to find new ways to accomplish goals. You can use your observations to assign new roles or additional responsibilities to team members. When you experiment with roles, you provide employees with an opportunity for career advancement. When taking these calculated risks, leaders should provide team members with new learning opportunities.

For leaders looking to introduce role experimentation into projects, it's best to brainstorm before doing so. Ask team members which skills they'd like to improve and which projects they think they can contribute to. For example, you may allow team members to conduct research, structure assignments, and perform risk assessments during new projects.

Related: Teamwork Skills: Definitions and Examples

4. Understand diversity

Team leaders can benefit from welcoming diverse opinions, skill sets, backgrounds, and experiences onto their teams. Understanding how diversity affects teams allows team leaders to look at projects differently. For example, a team leader may assign responsibilities depending on those diverse skill sets.

Related: How to Promote Inclusion and Diversity in the Workplace

5. Build a team culture

Effective teams often have a healthy company and team culture. While members experience differences, this culture keeps them together. It's normal for team members to agree or disagree regarding behaviours and responsibilities. The communication skills present in healthy team cultures allow them to express and embrace differences. The team leader's job is to establish this culture and find shared values among team members.

The leader can also find a common mission or goal that all employees share. These goals show the skills and values that are most important to team members. To determine the priorities of your team, brainstorm ideas with them and encourage them to contribute to the discussion.

Related: How To Learn More About a Company's Culture

6. Show accountability

Team members who demonstrate accountability help their team succeed by completing tasks by the assigned deadlines. When each team member stays accountable and completes tasks on time, the team can complete a project on time. Also, team members may show more accountability when they know their actions affect the entire team. Setting group goals and deadlines can help keep team members accountable for their individual roles.

Leaders can encourage accountability within teams by being accountable for their own work. Effective leaders get their employees' input by asking them for feedback on their leadership and implementing changes based on that feedback. When leaders demonstrate this accountability, team members are more likely to model it.

7. Manage communication

To work effectively, team leaders can create clear communication processes. They can set clear boundaries and guidelines for projects. It's also important for team leaders to establish the platforms teams can use for communication, such as email or instant messaging software. Effective teams can use innovative communication tools to increase collaboration. There are online tools available for those who are looking for a single platform to manage communication and project management.

Related: A Guide to Effective Group Communication (With Tips)

8. Establish leadership

Successful teams require strong leaders. A team establishes a leader when a project begins. Sometimes upper management selects a team leader, or the team might vote and choose their own leader. If applicable, consider selecting a team leader to oversee your next project.

If you're selected to be a team leader, consider developing your leadership style to increase your team's effectiveness. Strong leaders show their leadership style by dedicating themselves to their team. Being an exemplary leader requires you to adapt to changing circumstances with ease. You must also invite employees to provide feedback and find new ways to motivate team members. There are different management and leadership styles that determine how you communicate, facilitate discussion, and manage conflict.

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