15 Tips on Building an Effective Team

Affinity Express has around 800 employees in three countries: the US, India and the Philippines. Our employees range in experience from graphic designers fresh out of school to designers with many years of experience to managers and vice presidents with experience across industries and functions. Teams are often spread across all three countries and yet manage to work and communicate as seamlessly as if they were in the same room.

It’s not easy, but over the years I have picked up a few tips that I highly recommend, especially to new managers and leaders who find themselves in charge of or mentoring a team on site or virtually.

First, it helps to think of what your objectives are.  Having camaraderie among  team members is great, but it’s not always possible.  The goal is to get team members who might not have a lot in common personally to work together. Keep the bigger goal in mind: achieving specific business objectives. You need to motivate team members to work together effectively. For this, you need to build some level of teamwork, and have effective communication between you (the manager) and the team as well as between team members. You need to know your team members’ strengths and weaknesses in order to learn when, how and what to delegate.  As a manager, you need to know how best to maximize the diversity of thought, talents and experience of your  team.  High performing teams are a key to business success.

Set expectations

This is basic, but you’d be surprised at how often it’s overlooked. You need to let everyone know what’s expected of them.

  • Define standards and set goals.
  • Have job descriptions for all positions; define working roles and responsibilities.
  • Establish a plan that encourages the ethical behavior of team members.

Build your team and encourage teamwork

  • Establish a common goal for team members or a “collective vision” to work together (e.g., increase quality, increase productivity, etc.).
  • Encourage collaboration and teamwork to pull the team closer together. Encourage your team to learn from each other.
  • Pitch in when needed: you should be a member of the team as well as the manager.
  • Delegate work wisely: give your team members the opportunity to learn and grow.

Induct new members into the team

If a new member joins an existing team, you need to make sure they feel welcome and integral to the group.

  • Conduct new employee/team member orientation so that team members will understand how your department or team works.
  • Provide information to the team member and involve them in departmental activities when appropriate (to build teamwork).
  • Help the team member understand the business and market segments served.

Communicate effectively

  • Give feedback often. Don’t hold back on praise when someone exceeds targets, learns quickly, or shows initiative. On the flip side, be quick to let them know where they are falling short. Frequent, direct feedback helps people know what’s expected of them. If you give positive and constructive feedback often, your team members are far less likely to resent you when you give negative feedback.
  • Establish trust and a healthy working relationship by allowing the feedback to be a two-way street, not unidirectional. Encourage and ask for feedback for yourself and other team members. Managers who are open to providing and receiving feedback can improve their effectiveness, understand team members better and create mutual respect.
  • Hold regular meetings to discuss and resolve issues; take the opportunity to acknowledge and recognize good work and take corrective actions.

Lead by example

  • Live by the company’s work ethic and create an environment that encourages and enables a work-life balance.
  • Follow company policy even on what seem less important issues such as the dress code: this communicates to your team that company policies deserve respect and conformance.

What practices have you found useful in managing teams? What practices do you wish your manager followed? Do leave a comment: I’d love to learn how we can be more effective.

About Tinna Hall
Tinna is vice president of global HR at Affinity Express. Apart from work, she loves spending time with her son and doing arts and crafts projects.

One Response to 15 Tips on Building an Effective Team

  1. Pingback: 100th Blog Post « Affinity Express Blog

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