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Characteristics of Effective Teamwork

Building and sustaining high-performing teams

One of the crucial characteristics of effective teamwork is synergy. When synergy is achieved then a team moves towards high performance.

Continuing our series on stages of team development using our STAR team model, in this article we consider how to help a team achieve and sustain high performance. Aspects of synergy will be developed during the performance stage of the model. However high performance, the subject of this article, is where the team starts to exceed its results and to re-define some of its goals, both consistently.

Whilst every team and context is different a few important characteristics of effective teamwork can provide a basis on which to develop your approach to developing a team that consistently performs to a high level.

Characteristics of effective teamwork – the STAR team model

The STAR team model suggests that effective teamwork in the workplace happens when four elements (Strengths, Teamwork, Alignment and Results) are in place:

  • Characteristics of effective teamworkIndividuals flourish as they use and develop their Strengths
  • People come together building relationships that result in effective Teamwork
  • The team leader Aligns the team through effective communication of purpose, so that individual strengths combine with teamwork to deliver the teams results
  • Together everyone achieves more as performance flows and Results that are meaningful and rewarding to the team are achieved

A different emphasis and focus for each of the STAR model elements is needed at different stages of the team’s development.

For high performance, all three aspects of the STAR model are equally important, and the team balances the three areas of results, strengths and teamwork according to the situation. The teams impact spreads beyond its immediate context to influence other teams and the wider organization.

Typically team synergy is demonstrated when:

  • The team finds new ways of working
  • Team members initiate change
  • The team sets fresh challenges
  • Team members spreads good practice
  • Team members coach and support each other and start to do so with other teams
  • Team members take the lead more often in their area of expertise
  • Connections are made across team, more widely across the organisation and with customers which bring increasing value to what the team does.

In this phase the team leader should look for synergy by:

  • Exploring connections
  • Bring things together – ideas, people, skills, other teams – so that they combine in a way that delivers much more than if they were apart.
  • Encouraging the team to take on fresh challenges
  • Supporting new skills development
  • Renewing strengths
  • Encouraging individuals to experience flow ( sense of working at peak performance, where skills and level of challenge are matched) in what they do
  • Promoting innovation
  • Being outward looking

Team leaders should also encourage the team to be outward looking:

  • Connecting, encouraging, finding potential
  • Releasing team members to lead themselves

At this stage the team increasingly leads and certainly manages itself, as the maturity and capability of team members is evident. The leader’s role is one of serving the team by helping to create the conditions for high performance.

Synergy is one of the distinguishing characteristics of effective teamwork, but it is not always easily found. There does need to be a sense of vigilance and determination to reap the rewards of a team that is performing for the wider benefit of the organization.

Putting the characteristics of effective teamwork into practice

Teamwork Bundle

If you do have the time to read more on this topic, why not go to our teamwork articles. To read more of about our teamwork concept – the STAR team model- see our articles: teamwork theories; teamwork defined; and teamwork in the workplace.

For a more general introduction to teams a good place to start might be to think through why is teamwork important , or you may want to think about how you define teamwork or remind yourself of the benefits of teamwork.

Or if you want to put any of these ideas into practice, have a look at the tips and tools and a wealth of other resources, in our colossal Team Building Bundle.

Containing 240 pages and 50 tools, these are the 8 key guides we recommend to help you do more than understand the characteristics of effective teamwork. They will help you create it!


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