How to Build Better Teams

Posted on August 16, 2012.

“ A rising tide lifts all boats” JFK

Besides the fact they landed a science lab on Mars, what impressed me most about the NASA team was the sense of joy you saw in the faces of every member of the team.  It was clear this was a win for everyone.  Wouldn’t it be great if all teams celebrated this way?

They can.  If you want that kind of camaraderie and the realization that a win for one is a win for all, you have to start with setting expectations.  Many of us have worked in an environment where individual goals and results towards those goals are posted in some visible area of an office.  This tends to pit people against one another and may result in:

  • Unwillingness to help anyone else on the team
  • Stealing ideas, leads or credit
  • An attitude that the ends justify the means

So if you want to build a team that wants to work together for the common good, here’s what you need to do:

1.     Post a team goal and track the results to that goal only

2.     Encourage people with more experience to help those with less experience

3.     Make it clear that if the team goals are not met, no one wins

4.     Reward everyone on the team for their contribution to the results

It’s true that top performers want to stand out and be recognized.  You can do that as well. But make it clear that if he or she wins at the expense of others, it’s not a win. You can also build in peer coaching as part of their goals so they will be more motivated to help others.

It’s great to have winners on your team, but as NASA knows only too well, it’s better when the whole team wins.