Careers Succeeding at Work How to Build a Successful Work Team You can have a successful team if you do the right things Share PINTEREST Email Print Succeeding at Work Human Resources Job Search Resources Hiring Best Practices Glossary Employment Law Employee Motivation Employee Management Management Careers Management & Leadership Employee Benefits By Susan M. Heathfield Susan M. Heathfield Susan Heathfield is an HR and management consultant with an MS degree. She has decades of experience writing about human resources. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 11/20/19 Building a successful work team can be tough and challenging because it brings together a variety of opinions, values, past work experiences, upbringings, prior team experiences, work goals, and skills in communication and team building. However, teamwork and collaboration can be taught and developed by following 10 key steps to building a successful team. What Is a Team? Martin Barraud/Caiaimage/Getty Images Before building a team, it's important to understand the purpose of the team. In general, teams are interdependent groups of employees who unite around a particular task, project or objective. This can have a variety of applications. Teams might be brought together to bridge a gap between departments or they might be brought together for short-term projects or as permanent or long-term approaches to achieving specific goals. Purpose Diane Collins and Jordan Hollender / Getty Images A team with a clear purpose organize different people with different goals and plans into a cohesive whole. When successful, it funnels the energy of team members for the overall good of the organization. To reach this level of success with your team, you must identify your short- and long-term goals and the skills necessary to achieve those goals. From there, you can begin identifying the right people to recruit for your team. Team Building Tips Paul Burns / Digital Vision / Getty Images From clear expectations to appropriate methods for collaboration and communication, you can create a successful team. One of the first steps is to hire the highest ranking member of the team first. You want this person to help you put together the right group of people and build an appropriate culture. Culture Erik Isakson/Blend Images/Getty Images If you truly value and want to encourage teamwork and collaboration, your organization's culture must support your employees in practicing these skills. You need to take the actions necessary to create a work environment that expects, fosters, rewards and recognizes teamwork. Your work systems and approaches must support collaboration with a reduced emphasis on individual advancement. Better Relationships Plustwentyseven/Digital Vision/Getty Images Have you ever wondered why some teams are effective and others are dysfunctional for the life of the team? The effective teams have figured out the essentials of interpersonal communication dynamics and relationships. They are clear about the purpose of the team and about each other's roles on the team. Further, the team members have figured out how to assess how they are performing as a team constantly—and they check progress and relationships frequently. Employee Empowerment Zigy Kaluzny-Charles Thatcher/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images One of the fundamental needs in an environment that fosters teamwork and collaboration is empowered employees. They act independently and require minimal direction. Managers in organizations say they want employee empowerment, but they act in ways that undermine the ability of employees to act. Secrets of Great Communicators Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images Another critical factor in team success is effective communication. Emphasize the communication techniques that will help you build teamwork and camaraderie with your coworkers. These techniques zero in on the effective interpersonal behaviors that build the team. If all team members practice the secrets of great communicators, then a supportive teamwork environment is assured. How to Create Habits Thomas Barwick/ Iconica/ Getty Images In the normal course of working with each other, team members develop particular ways of interacting and accomplishing work. They fall into habits and patterns around behaviors such as keeping commitments, meeting deadlines, planning next steps, and decision making. Some of these habits and patterns serve the team well—and some of them undermine the team's success. Given that a team culture and norms will form in a planned or unplanned way, take the lead and have the team determine what kinds of rules and guidelines will best serve their efforts. Group Guidelines Cultura RM/Leonora/Collection Mix: Subjects/Getty Images Are you convinced that consciously creating team norms or guidelines will best serve the interests of your team? If so, you can expect a lot of discussions, ideas, disagreement, and even a few contrarians, but developing the norms builds the team. A good tip for the process of developing norms is to use an external facilitator to run these meetings. This helps ensure an objective process overseen by someone who is less likely to have selfish or ulterior motives. Keys to Team Success Sydney Roberts/Digital Vision/Getty Images Teams can benefit from team-building activities focused on helping groups of employees come together as one. There are myriad ways for team-building activities to go wrong, however, and not produce your desired outcomes. One of the most important factors is follow-up. An activity should be designed to achieve a specific outcome, then that desired outcome should be reinforced in subsequent meetings.