What Makes a Team Successful (With Tips and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 24, 2022 | Published September 29, 2021

Updated November 24, 2022

Published September 29, 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.

Companies understand the benefit of grouping employees into teams to achieve more by using their unique skills and areas of expertise to collaborate. Teamwork is an essential skill for any workplace regardless of your role within a company. Understanding what makes a team successful can help you become a more effective team player and contribute to the success of your team. In this article, we explain the importance of working in teams, what successful ones look like, including their qualities and skills, and tips on how to be a successful team member.

Related: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples

Importance of successful teams at work

Recognizing why teams are important can help you determine how to define what makes them successful. Teams are essential in almost any company, organization, or institution. Inspiring new ideas, helping solve complex problems, and influencing a company's culture are just a few contributions among many that teams bring to the workplace. That is why employers rely on this form of organizational structure and look for candidates who can thrive in team environments.

Below are some additional benefits teamwork offers:

  • Teamwork inspires creativity. This creates new opportunities to share opinions and ideas, and for companies to compete in today's innovative economy.

  • Working in teams creates a happier work environment. Job satisfaction among employees can lead to higher work productivity, benefitting the company.

  • Team members can learn from one another. Working in teams leads to employees learning new professional skills, strategies, and processes they may not have learned by working on their own.

Related: How To Be a Successful Team Lead: Roles and Responsibilities

What makes a team successful?

What makes a team successful depends on its mission. For this reason, it's important to understand what a successful team might mean to a company, department, or manager. For example, a sales team may define their success by a sales target, but that isn't the only company objective. They may also measure their team's overall ability to work together and the employees' job satisfaction.

Finding out what defines the success of your team can help you create and be a part of an effective one. Below are some examples of what could define a successful team:

Achieving goals

A team that sets goals can measure their success by achieving milestones together. Setting up quantifiable goals and celebrating achievements can help motivate the team to keep working and track its success. The SMART goals method guides teams in developing specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals. These can be short- or long-term, and any size.

Teams that work on temporary projects need to develop goals to set clear expectations and keep everyone motivated as they meet milestones. On a larger scale, departmental teams or entire companies can also benefit from setting goals. For example, achieving a specific customer satisfaction score or acquiring a new client can be an achievement the entire team can celebrate.

Key performance indicators

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are another quantifiable way to measure a team's success. Organizations use these to assess how a team is using their time and budget allocations, and whether they need to change anything to use the team's resources more efficiently. People can also set their own personal KPIs to evaluate their performance, but they're an essential tool for successful teamwork.

Related: Define and Measure Key Performance Indicators

Deadlines and budgets

A team can measure their success based on its ability to meet deadlines and stay within the allocated budget. It's essential for all members of a team to exercise their time management skills and communicate to ensure everything happens on time and within the forecasted spending limitations. This can help everyone complete their tasks on time and contribute to the ultimate team goal. Team leaders, project managers, business owners, and clients all value a team's ability to meet deadlines and work within a budget, so they're an essential measure of success.

Qualities of what makes a team successful

The individual qualities the team members possess can influence the team's ability to succeed. Here are some essential skills that make a successful team member:

  • Patience: Everyone in the team needs to have their turn, so everyone needs to be patient and be able to listen. Patience leads to respect for one another and team cohesion.

  • Accountability: Each team member has their own work to do and can take responsibility for those tasks. Being accountable means taking responsibility and doing the work that needs to be done.

  • Honesty: Being honest is key to effective communication. Each team member needs to be honest with each other to make sure everyone clearly understands the status of the project at each stage and can identify issues more efficiently.

  • Knowledge: Team members typically bring unique knowledge and expertise to a project. The more knowledge each team member has in their given field, the more the team can achieve.

  • Positivity: Team members that bring positive energy better equip their colleagues and coworkers to overcome challenges and also help celebrate the good times.

Related:

  • What Are the Qualities of a Good Team Player?

  • Promoting Collaboration in the Workplace: All You Need to Know

  • 6 Different Types of Teams (With Teamwork Examples)

Examples of team skills

A successful team has to develop the right skills to operate as a cohesive unit. The following skills are beneficial for teams:

Coordination

Teamwork begins with coordinating the tasks at hand and determining who is going to be responsible for which task. This also means scheduling regular follow-up meetings and organizing how the individual work comes together at the end of a project. The better a team is at coordinating, the better it can perform.

Example: A team is responsible for creating a new logo for their skincare company's new line of face creams. The first thing they do is decide on a regular meeting schedule. They then set a timeline, milestones, and delegate tasks to each team member.

Communication

A team needs to learn to communicate openly and clearly with each other, which sometimes requires adaptability to understand each other's preferred communication styles. Respect, trust, and honesty are also essential in all team communication so everyone can collaborate in a healthy environment. Team-building exercises typically rely on excellent communication and can help team members improve their active listening and nonverbal communication skills. This skill is essential for goal-setting, delegating tasks, and sharing responsibilities.

Example: A few members of a computer software team encounter an issue in their latest development. They let the team leader know right away, and communicate with the rest of the team to explain the challenge and ask for their opinions. To focus on the pressing issue. The team collectively decides to hold an impromptu meeting to discuss the issue together. Everyone shares their suggestions for how they might solve the software error until they find the solution. The team then works together and uses the experience to develop a strategy to prevent the same issue from occurring again.

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

Decision making

Time is usually not a luxury a team can take for granted in a work setting, so it's important for members to be good at making decisions quickly and concisely. Decisiveness is crucial to maintaining workflow and completing every project before the deadline.

Example: A team of structural engineers suddenly receives a task with a tight deadline. They decide to meet right away to discuss an action plan and together reach an agreement to work the next few weekends to make sure they complete the project on time.

Related: Decision-Making Models to Help You Make Good Decisions

Leadership

Successful teams need a project manager or group of team leads. Each member also has to show the initiative and responsibility of a leader to create the dynamics that foster a successful team. Other team members need to respect the authority of their designated leader within their group, but can still display leadership in their own actions. It can take the form of bringing up new ideas, encouraging others, and not being afraid to voice their opinions when necessary.

Example: The team lead of a group of research scientists encourages the rest of the team to exhibit leadership and share opinions and suggestions. When the time came to share ideas, each member contributed and some of them voiced concerns over other opinions.

Related: 9 Team-Building Skills and Why They're Important (With Tips)

Tips for being a successful team member

Now that you know what makes a successful team at work, follow these simple but important steps to make sure you can be a successful member of a team:

  • Make sure you're the right fit for the team and tasks.

  • Be willing to compromise.

  • Use the opportunity to learn from others.

  • Use your creative thinking skills and contribute unique ideas.

  • Do sufficient research to complete your tasks.

  • Ask for help or clarification when needed.

Related: How to Develop Cross-Functional Teams for Your Company

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