According to research from Bersin by Deloitte, the best organizations are redefining their talent practices to be centered on teams, instead of around hierarchies. Leading companies are 4.5 times more likely to practice effective teamwork and collaboration when they dedicate a larger share of resources to building and supporting teams that drive business performance.
When I reflect on the highest performing work teams in my corporate career, I mentally formed a short list of characteristics:
- You need to know why you are doing what you are doing, and everyone on the team needs to know what that is.
- You need to trust the people on the team. Trusting them is connected to personally caring for each member of your team.
From my perspective, the one thing that is essential on a high-impact team is for everyone to understand the workflow—from the beginning to the end. And not only to have a clear, shared understanding of all the steps but to have the workflow visible to all team members at all times.
Assuming your team has a great purpose and people who trust and care for each other, will that guarantee a high impact? Maybe not.
Inclusive Teams Perform The Best
The third essential characteristic of a high-impact team I postulate, is inclusivity:
- An inclusive team is that work group that values the individual and group differences within its team structure … the leader and team members make diverse employees feel valued, welcome, integrated and included in the team instead of isolated. Employee differences are celebrated, and every team member is listened to and encouraged to collaborate.
How can you foster an inclusive teamwork environment? Creating an inclusive environment is something leaders of teams, both big and small, need to consider so everyone is welcome, involved, and able to share their ideas. And as a team member, it’s important to ensure your teammates feel comfortable during conversations, meetings, etc. Here are several key competencies:
7 Capabilities That Help to Build Inclusive High-Impact Teams
- Establish team operating norms. Your vision for your team is irrelevant if you don’t establish the norms and practices that support your team in carrying it out. The people you work with need to know practically what it means to embody the vision you’ve mapped out. They have to know what activities they need to engage in that will allow them to perform at a higher level. Set your team up for success by giving them the tools and expectations needed to deliver.
- Promote the benefits of inclusion. Link inclusion directly to your core company values and use traditional communication methods such as posters, brochures, direct emails and videos to drive the inclusion message home.
- Celebrate inclusive behavior. Celebrate all successes and progress made in adopting inclusive behaviors, no matter how small. Give the person or team their 10 minutes of glory — for example, during a meeting or a breakfast, and allow them to share their story of success and/or struggle.
- Create an open atmosphere for sharing and debating ideas and views. Foster an open culture whereby diverse groups (individuals and decision makers) can freely express and voice their ideas. This type of open atmosphere brings together different perspectives, which can tear down biases and create rich discussions.
- Choose to practice empathy. To better understand and appreciate customers and team members who have backgrounds and experiences that are different from you, you’ve got to make a point to walk a mile in their shoes. By considering situations from their point of view, you will better position yourself to seek out their opinion rather than dismissing it, or assuming you’ve got the full picture.
- Develop training modules on diversity and inclusion. Encourage annual training on diversity and inclusive behavior. Don’t be afraid to let employees explore both their positive and negative attitudes.
- Develop trust through vulnerability. Be willing to show your weaknesses and limitations as a leader. Encourage team members to share their distinctive habits and then, as a team, explore and debunk stereotypes and encourage open discussion within the comforts of the team
As the leader of your team, the responsibility falls on you to cultivate the culture and environment that is inclusive and supports your team performing at their best. Follow the steps above to create an environment that helps you build a high-performing, inclusive team that is able to solve your customers’ problems like none other.
About the Author
Brian L. Hughes is a highly sought-after global consultant, speaker and coach. He has achieved great success in linking inclusive leadership competencies with agile business practices for leading organizations. Brian defines inclusive leadership as; leaders that bring awareness and clarity to problem areas, they practice courageous accountability to help resolve those problems, they empower others, and they foster innovative collaboration to unlock the unique contributions of each person in a group. To discuss inclusive leadership and high-performing teams, please connect with Brian at https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianlhughes01/