Productivity: Create structure through teams

Monday, April 26, 2010

Q. What is the best way to put my employees to work in teams?

A. We create teams to provide a structure for employees to participate in planning, problem solving and decision-making. In selecting team members you will want to include members with diverse skills and personalities, and you may choose to leverage a behavioral assessment tool, like Predictive Index, to help you.

The following elements are found in highly productive and successful teams:


There is commitment by team members to work together effectively to accomplish the vision/goals of the team.


Defining performance expectations is critical. Clear performance expectations support and help your employees develop accountable, productive, meaningful and participatory teamwork. Use of a project charter to define the scope, approach, timeline, resources and work deliverables define and clarify the work of the team.


The single factor that most contributes to a highly productive team is the individual team member’s ability to work with others, specifically the level of cooperation and communication skills. These “social intelligence” skills include the ability to compromise, persuade and make others feel important.


Trust in teams is having confidence in one another. It is fostered by team members spending time together in an atmosphere of honesty and openness. Trust is based on two key components: the competence and character of the team members.


Within a team, you may define a leader or a leader may emerge. A leader is knowledgeable about the work content and respected by other team members. Leaders establish clear accountabilities, timelines, listen well, mentor, willingly delegate and support the team members in accomplishing their goals.

Janice Ahlstrom is a partner in the Healthcare Practice of consulting firm Wipfli LLP. Reach her at 414-431-9352 or