Rebuilding a Team of Excellence

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You know that saying “Teamwork makes the dream work”? It does indeed, if you have a highly functioning team stacked with members who all share the same vision and are working together to achieve it. But what if you don’t? Maybe you inherited a team that was fractured, or slowly it morphed into being just a group of individuals with very different ideas and a lot of egos. Whatever the case, here are some ways to rebuild a cohesive team that works together sharing the same values and goals–and most importantly, respect one another.

Recognize the Elephant in the Room

Nothing creates more tension than unresolved issues between members of the team. Ignoring issues only creates for rifts between teammates and exacerbates bad feelings; it not only affects the people who are directly involved, but the entire team. Identifying the issues that exist, and are unresolved, is the first step in building a relationship of trust. Develop a system where people can discuss issues that hinder the productivity of the team. Surveys, suggestion boxes, and a employing a liaison are great ways to give everyone a voice. Once issues have been identified, it is incumbent upon every member of the team to work toward a resolution with dignity and respect. It may be necessary to employ a third-party mediator to help resolve the issue.

Don’t Play Favorites

Everyone on the team has a different function, but they should all feel valued. As a leader, it is important that you give equity to the members of your team. Recognize that every team member has strengths and weaknesses. Embrace their strengths and downplay their flaws; we all have them. Each person may need a slightly different approach, but it is essential that you give each member of the team what they need to feel empowered to be successful.

Lead Team Building Exercises

Team building activities are never a waste of time. It may seem like you can’t block out time for non-essential activities such as team building, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Team members need to trust each other–and that takes time.  Schedule team building, icebreaker activities  and celebrations all throughout the year. Building trust cannot happen with one experience or one event; it takes time.

Welcome All Ideas

Hold brainstorming meetings where all ideas are welcome and valued. It is important to set norms for meetings that all team members agree upon. Use technology apps to enhance the approach and allow every idea to be considered on its merit, not based upon who brought forth the idea. Create a procedure to identify the pros and cons for all ideas in a respectful way. Make feedback objective, not personal.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

Recognize the efforts of everyone who played a part or had a role in an event or activity. People love to feel valued–and it’s free!  Handwritten thank you notes and public praise are great ways to show gratitude.

Don’t Give Up!

Often people throw in the towel because they think they can’t get make progress with their teammates–a BIG mistake! This approach only serves to create more awkward space. Remind yourself that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and building a team of excellence won’t be either.

Practice the Golden Rule

Treat everyone you meet the way you would want to be treated, with dignity and respect; you can’t go wrong! Oh, and speaking of elephants–don’t have the memory of one. Often, it’s best to let things go to be able to move forward. Great teams have no place for egos.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success”.

-Henry Ford


Paul J. Berardelli is a the principal of Delsea Regional High School. Paul has challenged himself to be a true educational leader by inspiring his staff and students to excel. More recently, Paul has been featured in ASCD Journal for his article “Road Tested / Getting Up to Speed with Speed PD” and “Why Every Administrator Should Team Teach”.

Michele Hill is a passionate educator in her 25th year of teaching–students first, curriculum second. Throughout her career as an educator, Michele has been a champion for struggling and impoverished students. Michele has been a guest blogger for ASCD Inservice, McGraw Hill, Principal Leadership and ASCD Road Tested

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