You can spot an engaged team from a mile away. They typically look angles descended down from the heavens with the light they seem to have around them. A member of an engaged team is positive, energetic and creates positive energy in their wake. They have the ability to move mountains and create change, they possess a way to influence and motivate with ease and determination. Are you craving this in your companies? Are you part of an engaged team?
So, what are characteristics of an engaged team?
Here are 10 that are which are hallmarks of highly engaged teams.
- They have a shared vision of the future that everyone understand andis working towards. This sounds so elementary, doesn’t it? Well, when we ask teams why their organization exists, we almost always get a variety of answers. But when you ask the same question of an engaged team, everybody gives you the same answer – no variation. If you don’t have everyone on the same bus heading in the same direction, you just will never be successful in getting the desired results.
- They have motivating goals. It is one thing to have a clear vision, and another thing entirely to have team and individual goals tied to the successful accomplishment of the vision. Engaged teams know how their role and contribution plays into the greater picture. They know that they are one of many and that their contribution is just as important as teammates.
- Clearly defined Expectations — This goes hand in hand with the motivating goals. One of the biggest frustrations that we find within teams is that they don’t really know what is expected of them. Now you may be saying to yourself, ‘What kind of an idiot wouldn’t set clear expectations?’ The unfortunate thing is that very often the leader thinks the expectations are clear, but he may as well have been speaking Pig Latin when it comes to how well the team understands him. Answering one simple question will eliminate much of the potential for misunderstanding: What does success look like?
- There is effective communication ! Speaking of Pig Latin…One of the most important lessons each of us can learn is that what constitutes good communication for us may not be for the next person. Skilled team leaders make effective communication a top priority. They don’t just let it happen and hope for the best. There are multiple methods of sharing information in all directions – from the top down, from bottom up and as well as cross-functionally.
- A high level of Trust and Respect — According to Steven Covey in his book “First Comes Trust, all organizations pay a “trust tax”. The lower the trust, the higher the trust tax. The “trust tax” can be described as hidden costs that an organization by experiences employees withholding information, needless bureaucracy added to the workload, etc. An engaged team trusts each other and the company and have open communication.
- They learn from mistakes and celebrate successes. Lou Brock of the St. Louis Cardinals said, “”Show me a guy who is afraid to look bad and I’ll show you a guy you can beat every time.” Highly engaged teams are lead by individual who understand that the only way to improve is to try new things. This means risking failure. So, teams need to learn from their mistakes. It is also important to recognize success. Not once a year bonuses or raises, but frequent celebrations that build camaraderie and commitment to the team.
- Leaders delegating Authority as well Responsibility — If leaders do not allow team members to have the authority to perform tasks, they will not have “ownership” of that task. Many leaders think that they must keep control of all tasks and this fosters a culture of WIIFM (What’s in it for me?), the very antithesis of an engaged team. One characteristic of a low performing team is the requirement to get authorization or direction before taking action. This greatly diminishes buy-in, enthusiasm, creativity and responsibility.
- All team members look at themselves as Leaders — Each team member has a sphere of influence. The more that this is cultivated into leadership the better for the individual and the team. An important aspect of this is to provide authority as well as responsibility to complete their tasks.
- There is a path and tools in place to solve Conflict — Conflict will always be present at some level. However, the conflict should be ‘healthy’. When conflict escalates, productivity decreases (remember the trust tax?). By providing the team with tools and techniques to avoid, manage, and resolve conflict in a productive manner will support team engagement.
- A Commitment to improvement.— If an organization is complacent, that will translate into a team that is satisfied with the status quo. Nothing breeds disengagement quicker than boredom, a natural outgrowth of complacency. People will never bring their best to work if there is no challenge to make improvements. However, continuous improvement is a bi-product of the other characteristics listed here. By establishing a culture that combines these ingredients along with the tools and skill necessary for process improvement, your team can achieve amazing things.